Discover a First Aid for Hot Water Burns

May 22, 2017

Hot water burns are very common. They can easily happen when you’re making a cup of tea or preparing the dinner. But how should you treat them? Today, we’ll explain what the first aid procedures are for these types of injuries.

Types of hot water burns

Before deciding on the treatment for your burn, you should know that there are three different degrees of hot water burns:

First degree

These affect the outer or superficial layer of skin. The symptoms include redness, swelling, and a little pain. The area peels off within 7 days and is back to normal within two weeks.

Second degree

saucepan of boiling water

These ones are more serious because the second layer of skin is burned, too. This causes blisters and inflammation. They are also considerably more painful.

The blisters break on their own within a week. Complete healing happens in three weeks, and sometimes the skin ends up a little lighter or darker after scarring.

Third degree

This is the most severe type of burn, and is an emergency that requires immediate medical care. The burn goes through all your skin layers, and is extremely painful.

Burns caused by boiling water

water boiling on the burner

These are very common burns in the home. A pot of boiling water on the stove can turn into a real danger or even a tragedy if there are kids around. Small but serious hot water burns caused by boiling water are not uncommon.

You should always be careful and boil water on the burners farthest away from the edge of the stove whenever possible.

If boiling water just splashes you or has a very light contact with your skin, it will cause a bit of pain, but this will disappear in no time. A good idea to stop the burning is to run cold water over the area. You can use a bowl to do this, or place the burnt skin under the faucet for at least 5 minutes to cool it.

If the burn is a little more serious, do the same thing but for longer. For second degree hot water burns, run under cold water for at least 15 minutes.

The treatment depends on the area of the body that has been burned. For example, you can cover the area with a wet cloth or apply some ice in a plastic bag (but never directly on the skin).

Treatment for skin burns

Child pulling a kettle of boiling water

While you’re cooling the injury, take the time to evaluate the wound. If the pain doesn’t go away after a few minutes and you realize the red area has expanded, or blisters are forming, consider going for emergency treatment.

If the symptoms start to go away, then you can continue with the treatment at home.

Take some gauze and moisten it with water. Wrap the affected area and leave it for 30 minutes to an hour. If needed, change the dressing. This will keep the burn from coming into contact with harmful surfaces and contaminants.

Aloe vera is one of the best remedies for superficial burns, whether they be water burns, oil, or even sunburn. No home should be without this plant. Just break a stalk horizontally and extract the gel from inside.

The thick liquid that comes out has the power to hydrate your skin. Smooth onto the affected area and leave until it is completely absorbed.

If you want, you can wrap it with sterile gauze, although it’s better to let the wound “breathe.”

Serious burns: when to go to the hospital

Pan of boiling water

Let’s say a pot of boiling water falls and splashes you.

Your clothes may get stuck to your skin. Don’t try to remove them by yourself. Wet the area with cold water and immediately go for emergency treatment. The doctors there will remove the clothes carefully to ensure that there is no further damage.

If the burn causes a blister, don’t pop it, as this can cause a more serious injury, scarring, and even infection. Bandage it during the day so that it doesn’t burst, and leave it open to the air for a few minutes when you can. But be careful, if the blister is large, then we recommend that you see a doctor.

If the blister is very painful and causes pressure that doesn’t allow you to move the area normally, then contact your doctor.

Don’t forget to read: The 7 Best Natural Remedies for Reducing Scars

Steps for treating burns at home

Home treatment only works for small superficial burns up to second degree. For more serious burns, you should always see a doctor.

After applying cold water, we recommend that you:

  • Apply some Vaseline and cover the burn with sterile gauze.
  • Keep a bandage on during the first day and try not to touch it.
  • Take a pain reliever (such as Ibuprofen).
  • Change the bandage and air it in the mornings.
  • Moisten the gauze before removing it so that it doesn’t stick to the skin.
  • After 7 days, clean it and remove dead skin using a gauze moistened with isotonic water. But don’t force it; the skin will come off by itself.
  • Belmonte Torras, J. A., Marín De La Cruz, D., Gornés Benajam, M. B., Gubern Pi, L., & Guinot Madridejos, A. (2004). Quemaduras por agua caliente sanitaria. Anales de Pediatria.
  • Local, T. (2014). Tratamiento de las quemaduras. Universidad Computense de Madrid.
  • Moliné, J. y S. M. (1999). Primeros auxilios : quemaduras. NTP 524: Primeros Auxilios: Quemaduras.