Scald burns are some of the most common forms of burns. They are often partial thickness and can occur anywhere on the body. Scald burns usually happen from hot liquid spilling on the chest, face or hands. The degree of burn can vary with the type of liquid, with fat containing liquids having a higher potential for deeper burns because they are more difficult to rinse off. Most scald burns will heal without needing any operative intervention, and can heal with limited to no noticeable scar.
There are simple steps to encourage a more superficial injury with a greater healing potential:
- Rinse the hot liquid off immediately with cool water for approximately 10 minutes. Any involved clothing should be removed. Thicker liquids and liquids containing fats, like soups, may cause a deeper burn. These liquids should be removed and the burned area cooled.
- The burned area should be covered with an anti-biotic ointment, which helps to prevent infections and provide a moisture barrier so that the burned area does not dry out.
Consult with a plastic surgeon who treats these injuries, to help direct proper care for burns, including debridement of burn blisters (bullae), burn care, and scar care. Dr. Trussler does manage partial thickness burn injuries in his Austin, Texas plastic surgery office.
Common Topical Antibiotic Ointments:
- Triple Antibiotic: more of a moisture barrier for very superficial burns. Can cause hypersensitivity.
- Silvadene: good for all non-facial burns, but can be messy and layer up on the wound and must be washed off before reapplication. Not for use in patients with a sulfa allergy.
- Bactroban: good for facial burns and deeper burns. Good antibiotic coverage.
- The burned area can be washed with soap and water with a soft washcloth to help encourage the removal of layered up anti-biotic ointment and burned skin on the burned area. This helps to encourage the penetration of the anti-microbial ointment into the wound and encourages the initial healing of the partial thickness burn.
- When the burned area has a new skin covering (usually 1 week), the anti-biotic ointment can be stopped and a hydrating moisturizer should be applied. This helps to prevent is fragile skin from drying out.
- The area of burn injury should be protected from sun exposure for the first year. The healing skin is light sensitive and will easily pick up pigment after UV exposure. A sunblock or high SPF sunscreen should be applied when outdoors.
- When the newly healed burn is mature (3-4 weeks), scar care can be started with a silicone based scar care. Silicone can be alternated with a moisturizer. A silicone-based lotion can be used.