Scald Injuries

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Around 112,000 individuals are treated in the emergency rooms for scald injuries each year and among these 6% require hospitalization.

Scald injuries are a type of thermal burn that occurs when hot fluids, such as, boiling water or steam burn the skin. Scald injuries are often classified as either first degree or second degree burns but in rare cases, it can cause a third degree burn, especially with a prolonged exposure. Blisters are usually associated with scald injuries. Healing time is usually longer for scald injuries, in comparison to other burn types, and the chances of forming a scar are also greater.

The second most common cause of serious burn injuries in individuals are scald injuries. Injuries of this sort are typically more common in children below the age of five, particularly from accidental spillages of hot liquids. However, not all cases of scald injuries are accidental, such as in cases of child abuse, where damage covers a great amount of total surface body area. Moreover, adults who are 65 years old or higher and individuals with sensory neuropathies and other handicaps are also noted to be at greater risk for scalding.

Causes of Scald Injuries

Scald injuries are frequently due to contact with fluids that have a high temperature. In most cases, these injuries are due to accidents. The most common causes of scald injuries are due to:

  • Hot baths and showers
  • Cooking boiled water (usually while preparing for food)
  • Spillage of hot drinks, such as coffee and tea
  • Steam – steam typically causes more severe injuries than hot waters because of its greater efficacy at heating objects (due to the greater amount of latent heat absorbed)

First Aid Management for Scald Injuries

It is important to apply appropriate first aid as soon as possible to avoid complications that can be brought about by scald injuries. The following steps should be done immediately, however, it must be noted that this does not serve as substitute for actual first aid training or professional medical advice. Enroll in First Aid Training that teaches how to manage various kinds of burns and of different degrees.

  • Get the individual away from the source of water or heat immediately.
  • Run cool water on the affected area for 10 to 30 minutes. Do not use ice or oil-based substances on burns.
  • Remove any piece of clothing or jewelry near the affected area. However, any item stuck to the skin should not be removed.
  • Keep the individual warm by covering with a blanket but make sure that it does not rub against the affected area.
  • Put a layer of cling film over the burn.
  • To relieve of pain, give pain killers such as paracetamol or ibuprofen.
Put a first aid blanket
Put a first aid blanket around the victim of a scald injury to avoid heat loss

Prevention of Scald Injuries

Most scald injuries are accidental. This is why it is necessary to take the necessary precautions when handling hot waters or vapors.

  • Before putting the infant or toddler in a hot bath, test the temperature of the water by placing own elbow on the bath.
  • Keep the children out of the kitchen if possible.
  • Keep the matches, lit candles and lighters out of children’s reach.
  • Keep hot drinks away from children.

Scald injuries are a type of thermal burn that is caused by hot liquids that usually result to the blistering and scarring of the skin.

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