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What to Do if Your Child Gets Burned

It’s Sunday morning and your doorbell rings. As you walk towards the door, you hear something fall behind you. The noise is followed by instant wailing and dread washes over you.

Turning around, you see your two-year-old child spilled your steaming coffee all over themselves.

Accidents happen. When something hot comes into contact with your child, it’s important to know what to do. How bad is the burn? Does it require a trip to your local urgent care center? What can you do immediately to comfort your child?

Step 1. Examine the burn.

The first step is to look at the burn to see how bad it is. You can treat minor burns at home with first aid. Remove any clothing covering the burn (if applicable) slowly and carefully. If the burn was caused by chemicals, remove all clothing that might have touched the chemicals. A minor burn typically consists of just redness. The skin remains very tender to touch. Any blistering over about the size of a quarter is more serious. If a blister crosses a joint, or if any blistering occurs in a very young child, you should seek medical care.

Step 2. Remain calm.

Burns can be painful and shocking. When a burn occurs, you may find yourself or your loved one becoming anxious and afraid. Remaining calm is crucial to proper first aid treatment.

Step 3. Apply first aid.

Gently apply a cool towel to the area. If the burn was caused by chemicals, hold the burn under cool running water for 10 to 15 minutes to remove any excess chemicals. Do not use ice. Afterwards, carefully apply an over-the-counter ointment and/or use Tylenol or Motrin to reduce the pain.

Step 4. Take special care of the injury.

Healthy foods and plenty of fluids are needed for burns to heal. Listen to a doctor’s instructions in terms of activity level, wound care and medications. Keep an eye on the wound for signs of infection – fever, redness, drainage or pus. Always follow up with a doctor if you have questions or concerns.

What to Do if it’s Worse Than a Minor Burn

If you think the burn is worse than first degree or you’re unsure, seek medical care. A medical professional will be able to determine the severity of the burn and next steps. Urgent care centers often treat burns and abrasions and are capable of providing proper treatment.

For second degree burns, sedation or anesthesia may be required to examine and clean the wound. Treatment methods for second degree burns often include using an antibiotic paste, such as Neosporin, and proper covering to allow the skin to heal.

Treatment for third degree burns is more serious. Some patients are admitted to an intensive care unit where their heart is monitored for abnormal activity. Also, damage to the muscle is examined by looking at blood levels. Third degree burns almost always requires a skin graft to heal properly.


GoHealth Urgent Care is dedicated to treating burns among people of all ages. If at-home treatment of a minor burn doesn’t help, or the burn is more serious, visit a GoHealth Urgent Care center nearest you. We’re here to help


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