Burns in babies and children: everything you need to know about their types, prevention and treatment

The accidents suffered by children in the domestic environment are, unfortunately, more common than we imagine, and The usual injuries include burns. From the accidental dumping of a cup of coffee, to a sunny day without photoprotection or a jet of water too hot; The truth is that there are several factors that can cause this type of damage.

Although most burns could be avoided with adequate safety measures, every precaution is little when talking about children, so it becomes necessary know how to act correctly in case these injuries occur. We tell you what are the most frequent burns in children, and what to do (and what not) to treat them.

Types of burns

According to the agent that causes the burn, in the domestic and family environment we could talk about the following types:

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The sunburns are not exclusive to summer, but they can also occur in other seasons of the year when the sun seems to heat less. That is why it is so important to prevent them with the application of a sunscreen appropriate to the type of skin that the child has, and to avoid direct sun exposure at the central hours of the day.

When the sun causes a burn, the skin becomes red, hot to the touch and hurts, especially between six and 48 hours after it occurred. In some cases blisters may come out, and in most cases the affected skin ends up peeling.

It is important to remember that although the symptoms of these burns are temporary, once the damage occurs its effects are often permanent, may cause long-term effects such as skin cancer or premature skin aging.

Hot liquids

Burns with hot liquids are especially frequent in the kitchen, when children's curiosity leads them to want to examine what is being cooked, being able to accidentally spill food. This type of burns usually causes damage, both in the epidermis and in the next layer of the skin, leading to blisters.

On other occasions we have seen hot water burns caused by the shower or the garden hose, especially in the hottest months of the year when the rubber gets so hot that the water comes out at a temperature capable of burning the child's skin.


Steam burns are very painful, but rarely serious because it is usually superficial. In the domestic sphere they are also common in the kitchen (for example, by uncovering a pan or opening the oven door in operation, without due protection), or by improper use of certain appliances such as the iron.

Before a steam burn we will see that the area immediately becomes very red and even you can see some small blister that we should never explode or touch.


Young children are especially attracted to fire (It is only necessary to see how they put their hands on the candles of the birthday cake without being aware of the danger), so this type of burns in the domestic environment are usually frequent.

Prevention is the only way to avoid these burns: for example, protecting the kitchen stove area with security elements, replacing the candles we have at home with LED candles, and if in winter we resort to the use of fireplaces and stoves it is essential to protect them with approved grilles, which avoid That the child can approach.

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Another potential danger, especially among teenagers, is the pyrotechnics items, so if they are going to handle them it is advisable to explain the safety measures that they must take into account.

And finally, remember the importance of not smoking in front of children. Not only because tobacco smoke seriously impairs their present and future health, but because cigarette ash is another common cause of accidental burns in children.


Although when thinking about the causative agents of burns we would probably never think of ice, the truth is that this element can also cause burns.

In the domestic sphere, ice burns in children are not usually frequent, although they could occur if they play with ice cubes or cold bags are placed directly on the skin.

It could also happen that the injury is caused by us accidentally, when applying ice on a bump after a fall. To prevent this from happening, the cold should be applied only for a few minutes and never directly on the skin.

In ice burns the skin becomes red and itchy. To relieve discomfort, we should heat the area by covering it with a cloth or a soft bandage, and never apply direct heat to the affected area.

Abrasion against a surface

Falls are very common among children, and although in most cases they are not serious, in other cases they could cause more delicate wounds that require more attention.

Such is the case of abrasion burns against asphalt, very typical when accidents occur with the bike or skates / scooters, for example, as well as friction burns when sliding down slides or inflatables.

These burns are quite painful, and some take time to heal in the area where they normally occur. In case the burn is due to fall, it is important wash the wound immediately to remove dirt and dirt, and if it is a wound that we can heal ourselves, we will do it daily to prevent it from becoming infected.

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In many cases, the prevention of this type of wounds is simple, and would happen through the use of elbow pads, knee pads and protective elements when practicing certain sports.


Electric burns occur when the child bites wires plugged in, or manipulates unprotected plugs, sticking fingers or any other electrically conductive object.

In the event that the child experiences an electric shock, we must attend to it before making sure that does not continue to be in contact with the source of electricity. If so, we must separate it using a wooden object or insulator.

These types of burns are not usually seen visually, hence the importance of be assessed urgently in the hospital.

Chemical products

In the domestic environment, chemical burns occur when inhaling or ingesting certain cleaning products or button cells, as well as when chemicals such as bleach are spilled on the skin. This type of burns can cause great damage, both external and internal, hence the child has to be evaluated urgently in the hospital.

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If the burn has occurred on the skin due to contact with a chemical, immediately wash the area with plenty of running water for at least ten minutes, and we will remove the clothes that are in contact with the affected area, being careful not to shake it to prevent the product from slipping and falling to other parts of the body.

If it has been produced by ingestion, we should never cause vomiting to the child, and if possible we will take to the hospital the label of the product you have ingested.

How to treat a burn

When treating a burn we must differentiate if it is first grade, second or third, to act in one way or another.

First degree burns we differentiate them because only the skin reddens, affecting a small area. It is a superficial burn that we will heal as follows:

  • We will submerge the affected area in fresh water (But not very cold!) For as long as necessary. With this we pretend not only to relieve pain, but to cool the area and prevent heat from spreading and damaging the deeper layers of the skin.

  • We will apply a anti-inflammatory ointment. We can also cover with sterile gauze for the next 24 hours.

  • If the child has pain we can administer paracetamol or ibuprofen, and relieve local symptoms with an aloe vera ointment or moisturizer for several times a day.

Second degree burns They are characterized because in addition to reddening of the skin, blisters also appear. This indicates that in addition to the surface, other deeper layers have been affected.

In this case, we will proceed to cool the area as we would if it were a superficial burn, we will disinfect with soap and water or chlorhexidine, and we will consult with the pediatrician, since it may be necessary to use an antibiotic ointment.

Third degree burns They affect the deeper layers of the skin, muscles, blood vessels and nerve endings. They have an appearance between yellowish, brown and black, and the skin looks rough. Frequently, the patient does not notice pain, as the area is numb due to nerve damage. We should never cure this type of burns at home, and must be assessed urgently by a medical teamWell, sometimes hospitalization may be necessary.

What should never be done

When treating a superficial burn, these are the things we should never do:

  • Apply ice to the affected area, as this would make the burn worse.

  • Rub the burn, as blisters may occur.

  • Bust or touch the blisters.

  • Remove clothing covering the burn without having previously wetted the area. In any case, If we observe that the clothes seem to be attached to the skin, we will not remove it!, because we can cause even greater damage.

  • Cover a burn that suppurates, as the bandage would adhere to the skin increasing the lesion.

  • Apply home remedies, such as talc, fat or toothpaste.

  • In case of burn by abrasion against the asphalt, oxygenated water or povidone iodine should not be applied, since we would worsen the lesion and delay the healing process. Nor should the wound be left in the air.

When is it necessary to consult with the doctor?

Whenever we have any doubt about the treatment that we must apply to cure the burn or if this has been suffered by a baby or young child, it is necessary to consult with the pediatrician.

But in addition, there is another series of signs that should put us on alert and that have to be evaluated immediately by the specialist:

  • As we have said above, if the burn is not superficial but deep, it must be examined and treated by a doctor.

  • If the affected area covers between five and seven centimeters, or more than 5% of the child's body.

  • If the burn has occurred on the face, scalp, hands, feet, genitals or large joints.

  • Any burn caused by electricity or chemicals must be assessed by a doctor.

  • If the pain or redness persists or worsens during the following hours after it has occurred, or if flow, blood or suppuration appears in the affected area. These signs may indicate an infection..

Make our home a safe environment for children It is the most effective way to prevent such accidents. Among other measures, remember to protect plugs, lock up cleaning or toxic products, avoid the presence of children while cooking and do not put within reach any element likely to cause these injuries.

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