Burn Injuries in Kids: 5 Myths & Facts!

Family, health tips, parenting, telemedicine


I talked a little bit about an old wives tale about butters and burns on my instagram page last week during Burn Awareness week.  Every 60 seconds someone sustains a burn injury severe enough to require medical attention. Children are also 2.4 times more likely to suffer burn injures that require emergency medical treatment than the general population. 75% of burn injuries in children come from liquids or steams. Burn injuries includes thermal, chemical and electrical causes. 

Here is what you need to know if your child sustains a burn injury:


MYTH:  You should rub an ice cube over the burn area

FACT:   Do not put ice directly on thermal burns as this can make it worse and can make the healing time longer. Rubbing burns will slow down the healing process.  Instead run cool water over the area until there is pain relief.  If the burn is from a chemical injury remove the clothing and wash off the skin and contact your pediatrician or Poison Control at 1-800-222-1222.


MYTH:  Pre-testing the bath water with your hand is sufficient enough to gauge the temperature intensity for your child.  If it’s not hot for you its not for them!

FACT:  Younger children have thinner skin and their skin can burn more quickly, even at lower temperatures.  Water temperature should be at 120 F or the manufacture’s recommended setting.  Always test the temperature of bath water for younger kids with a bath toy thermometer.  If that’s not available use your elbow or wrist.


MYTH:  You should pop the burn blister.

FACT:  There are three levels of burn severity.  First degree burns are like sunburns. They turn red, somewhat painful but do NOT blister.  Second degree burns are superficial.  The first outer layer of skin is burned. This burn is painful and will have blisters.  Third degree burns involved the first two layers of skin.  The skin will appear white in color.  Popping a blister is not recommended as this can increase the risk of infection. Gently cleanse the burn with soap and water.  Cover the burn with a clean non-sticking bandage until new skin forms and there is no longer fluid coming from the burn.  Don’t forget to give pain medication like acetaminophen or ibuprofen.


MYTH:  Microwaves are safer than ovens.

FACT: Children, especially young toddlers, are at risk for burn injuries from microwaves as well. Most burns in children requiring medical treatment are related to the preparation or consumption of food.  This includes injuries like splashing of hot liquids, spills,  opening hot containers or consumption of  unevenly cooked foods.


MYTH:  Do like grandma says and put some butter on that burn. It helps!

FACT:  Applying butters, oils, creams, grease or powders will worsen the burn injury.  If the burn is more severe than a superficial (redness only) burn then they require immediate attention. You can cover non-oozing burns with a sterile gauze or a clean and dry towel.  If the burn covers  their face, hands,  feet, genitals, joints or has a surface area of more than 10% of  their body then immediate medical attention is required.  All electrical burns should be evaluated by a medical physician.





P.S. Remember you can book an appointment with me for any pediatric non-emergent illnesses like superficial burns, ear aches, rashes, vomiting, pink-eye etc or for any parenting questions about pediatric illnesses, behavior or development.

All posts containing medical information are for informative purposes only and is not direct medical advice nor establishes a patient-physician relationship. 

Photo by Caleb Jones on Unsplash