How to Treat a Burn on a Toddler

parent applying sunblock cream on child shoulder
Protect your toddler's skin from burn damage by treating it promptly. (Image: Nadezhda1906/iStock/Getty Images)

Toddlers most often receive first-degree burns from touching hot items, unaware of the risk, but may also face situations where they experience more serious burns. AskDrSears.com classifies a first degree burn as redness with no blistering that will not leave a scar when properly treated. Second degree burns turn red, blister and are very painful but will not scar if treated properly. Third degree burns, the most serious type of burn, affects several layers of skin and causes scarring even when properly treated. Burns from harsh chemicals, such as lye and acids, typically look like a sunburn. Only first degree burns should be treated completely at home. Other burn degrees require a trip to a physician or an emergency room. All burns require immediate attention to prevent further damage.

Step 1

Remove your toddler from the source of the burn immediately.

Step 2

Submerge the burned area in cool water, place the area under cold running water or apply cold cloths to the area for at least 20 minutes if the toddler receives a first or second degree burn. First degree burns turn the skin red, while second degree result in blotchy, blistery, red marks on the skin.

Step 3

Pat the area dry with a clean cloth and place a sterile bandage from a sealed package loosely over the burn. Use a piece of gauze or a clean cloth if you do not have a bandage.

Step 4

Administer an appropriate dose of acetaminophen or ibuprofen for pain relief. Follow the package guidelines.

Step 5

Spread a layer of 100 percent aloe vera gel over first degree burns.

Step 6

Spread a layer of antiseptic ointment over the area if it begins to blister.

Step 7

Cover the area every daily with a new bandage and a layer of antiseptic ointment or aloe vera gel.

Things You'll Need

  • Sterile cloth

  • Bandage

  • Sterile dressing

  • Acetaminophen or ibuprofen

  • 100 percent aloe vera gel

  • Antiseptic ointment

  • Soap

  • Sunscreen

Tip

Remove your child's clothing immediately if he receives a chemical burn to avoid spreading the chemical to other parts of his body.

Use a gel burn dressing, available from drugstores, for quicker relief from burns. These products have a cooling solution within a non-adherent pad that you apply to burns to cool and protect the burn without sticking to the burned skin.

Apply sunscreen over the burn once healed for 6 months to protect it as it will be extremely sensitive to sun exposure.

Warning

If your toddler's clothing or parts of his body are on fire, smother the flames with a towel or blanket. Administer CPR if he is not breathing and call 911. If he is breathing, but is burned severely, cover the burn with a clean, sterile cloth and take him to an emergency room.

Take your child to see a doctor if he experiences a second-degree burn, the burn is larger than 2 inches in diameter or is on his eyes, face or genitals.

Burns covering a large area of the body, such as over the entire chest or abdomen, always require a visit to the ER immediately.

Call Poison Control (800) 222-1222 if your toddler has swallowed any chemicals.

Your child will most likely protest to having an area of his body placed under cold water for 20 minutes, but continue to reassure him and restrain him, if necessary, to keep cooling the burn.

If after treatment the burn doesn't improve and starts to ooze or smell, consult your child's physician.

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