While you certainly hope that your baby never sustains a burn, burns in young children, infants included, are quite common. As KeepKidsHealthy reports, 40,000 children are hospitalized for burn-related injuries annually and one-half of all these injuries are sustained by patients under 4 years of age. If your baby, despite your best efforts, does sustain a burn, handling this incident with care is vital to ensure rapid healing and avoid infection.
Assess the burn’s severity. As first, second and third degree burns all require a different level of response, you must first try to determine which level of burn your child has sustained. If the burn appears to be minor, and no blister is present, your baby has likely sustained a first-degree burn. This burn will look much like a sunburn. If the burn is a bit more severe and some blistering is present, you likely have a second-degree burn. The affected skin will likely look shiny, as if it is moist, if the burn is second degree. If the burn is severe, and the skin is white or looks teared, your baby has most probably suffered a third-degree burn. While a third-degree burn is more severe than a first- and second-degree burn, your baby may not appear in as much pain with this burn as with others, as some of the nerve endings may have been destroyed.
Place a cool compress on the burn, and hold it in place for at least 15 minutes. If you do not immediately cool the burn, the skin will only continue to hold heat, and the burn will become more severe. Create a cool compress by putting cool water from the tap on a sterile cloth.
Seek immediate medical treatment for burns that are worse than first degree. When treating older children, you can care for second-degree burns without medical attention, but because babies are more susceptible to infection, not seeking medical attention for a second-degree burn with an infant is a risk that is likely not worth taking.
Cover first-degree burns with a sterile dressing, taking care to secure it well. Use medical tape to keep this dressing in place. Do not put any ointment on with the dressing, unless directed to do so by your child’s doctor.
Keep the burned area clean, and monitor it for infection. Even minor burns can become infected. Keep a close eye on the area until it has fully healed to ensure that you catch, and deal with, any infections early on.