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First Aid

This section of the website aims to give members of the public basic advice on how to treat minor burn injuries.  If in doubt call NHS 111 or your GP for advice. 

In the case of more serious burns, visit your nearest Emergency Department or dial 999 as soon as possible.  Carrying out the first aid tasks listed below as soon as possible can also reduce the long term affects of burn injuries in relation to scaring.  If the burn injury is serious or meets the criteria for specialised burn care, the Emergency Doctor will contact the Specialised Burns Service for advice and possible transfer to the most appropriate burn service.

An overview of First Aid for Burns, advice on when to go to hospital, types of burns, complications and prevention can be found on the NHS website: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/burns-and-scalds/treatment/ 

First Aid

First Aid should ideally be performed within twenty minutes of the burn injury.  However, cooling the burn can still be effective up to three hours post injury.

Do's

Don'ts

Stop the burning as soon as possible, for example by dousing the flames or removing the person from the area

Do not put yourself at risk

Remove any clothing that surrounds the burn

Do not attempt to remove clothing if it is stuck to the skin. You should leave this for medical staff to remove

Remove any jewellery which is near the burn site. But only do this if you can safely remove it without causing any damage to the burn

Do not pull or tug at clothing which is stuck to the skin as can cause further complications

Cool the burn down immediately. You should place the affected area in cool water or under a gently running cold tap for at least 20 minutes

Never place a child in a bath full of cold water. This can cause them to go into shock and other complications

Keep the person warm by using a blanket or layers of clothing.

Do not use ice

Cover the burn with cling film as a layer over the burn.  

Burns can be left uncovered unless they are in a place where it is difficult to keep clean. Use a non-adhesive (non-sticky) dressing for temporary coverage if you need to cover a minor burn or scald.

Do not use any ointment or cream on the burn. And never use butter, oil, spray or any other household medicineDo not use ice

Seek medical help by calling 111 or visiting a GP

Avoid putting blankets or layers of clothing directly on the burn

Attend the nearest Emergency Department or dial 999 for more severe burn injuries

Avoid wrapping cling film around any joints when wrapping it around a limb and do not apply to the face

Most small burns will heal themselves.  

If a burn has not healed within two weeks, seek medical attention as there can be a risk of sepsis

Never burst or pop any blisters on a burn, as this can lead to an infection.

If the patient has not had a full course of tetanus immunisation, or boosters are not up to date, contact GP

Further Information

    Call 111 when you need medical help fast but it’s not a 999 emergencyNHS ChoicesThis site is brought to you by My Surgery Website