More than 112,000 people in the United States go to the emergency room every year for scald burns, according to the City of Rochester Hills, Michigan, Fire Department. Skin burned by boiling water has been scalded. Layers of skin absorb the heat. Tissue is damaged and cells are destroyed. Liquid leaks from the scalded skin and the body may go into shock trying to replace these fluids. While they can happen anywhere, scald burns are the most common burns in restaurants, according to the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries.
Cool the Skin
Pour cold water over the scalded area to cool the skin and dissipate the heat. You may use a cup, a faucet or even a pan of cool water. Cool the affected area with water for at least 10 minutes and continue until the pain subsides. If water is not available, any harmless liquid will do.
Look at the burn to determine its severity. Superficial burns are characterized by redness, swelling and tenderness, and do not require a trip to the hospital.
Call for help if the victim is unresponsive, in shock or if there are additional injuries. If the skin looks raw and blisters form, medical attention should be sought immediately. Seek medical attention if the damage is more than 1 percent of a person's mass, or roughly the size of one hand.
Remove any clothing or jewelry near the affected area before the skin begins to swell. Remove rings immediately if the hand is scalded. If jewelry or clothing sticks to the skin, do not force it off, St. John Ambulance of London warns.
Pat the skin dry rather than using a rubbing motion to prevent tissue damage. Avoid applying any ointments, creams or antibiotics to a burn until they are prescribed by a physician. These can carry heat deeper into the layers of skin, causing more damage.
Wrap the area loosely with gauze to protect the delicate tissue from further damage and infection. The gauze should be loose so that circulation is not restricted. A cold compress held on top of the gauze can relieve pain and reduce swelling. During recuperation, the gauze should be changed at least once daily.
Prop the affected area up on a pillow, preferably so the scalded area rests above the heart. This position reduces pressure in the tissue of the injured body part, and thereby relieves pain.
Avoid popping blisters. Blisters are the body's way of protecting delicate tissue that is trying to heal itself. Don't pick at peeling skin. Burns destroy the body's protective casing--the skin--and picking at the healing skin may invite infection.