Scalding is a form of burning from heated fluids such as boiling water or steam. Most scalds result from exposure to high-temperature water such as tap water in baths and showers or cooking water boiled for the preparation of foods. (A burn
is caused by dry heat. This can be caused by an iron or fire, for example.)
Another common cause of scalds is spilled hot drinks such as coffee. Scalds are generally more common in children, especially from the accidental spilling of hot liquids. Most scalds are considered first or second degree burns but scalding can also result in third degree burns.
If someone has breathed in smoke or fumes, they should also seek medical attention. Some symptoms may be delayed and can include coughing, a sore throat, difficulty breathing or facial burns.
Medical Emergency: More serious burns will require professional medical attention. You should go to a hospital A&E department for:
- all chemical and electrical burns
- large or deep burns – any burn bigger than your hand
- full thickness burns of all sizes – these burns cause white or charred skin
- partial thickness burns on the face, hands, arms, feet, legs or genitals – these are burns that cause blisters
People who are at greater risk from the effects of burns, such as children under five years old and pregnant women, should also get medical attention after a burn or scald.
To treat a burn, follow the first aid advice below:
immediately get the person away from the heat source to stop the burning
cool the burn under cold running water for at least 10 - minutes – do not use ice, iced water or any creams or greasy substances such as butter
remove any clothing or jewellery that is near the burnt area of skin, but do not move anything that is stuck to the skin
make sure the person keeps warm – for example by using a blanket – but take care not to rub it against the burnt area
after the burn has cooled cover it with cling film or a clean plastic bag