CHILDREN are more vulnerable to burns that you might think, as their skin is far more sensitive than adults'.

Something like a hot cup of coffee or tea is enough to leave their skin scalded and raw.

Faced with this kind of situation, many parents might not actually know how to give first aid for burns – or make crucial mistakes while doing so.

Nikki Jurcutz from child and baby first aid page Tiny Hearts Education said: "Incorrect first aid could result in more scarring, slower healing and more tissue damage."

The ex-paramedic said that up to 29 per cent of children don't receive the correct first aid for burns – Nikki is Australia-based.

She said tending to your little one's burns correctly can:

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Forgotten first aid step that could save your child's life in an emergency

  • Significantly reduce tissue damage
  • Speeds up the wound-healing process
  • Reduces the likelihood of life-long scarring

Here are five first aid mistakes you might be making that could leave your child physically scarred.

1. Not being careful when removing clothing

The first thing you need to do is remove clothing and accessories around the injured area, Nikki said. This includes nappies.

But you need to be very careful with this step, as you could hurt your tot more

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The British Red Cross stressed that you shouldn't try to remove anything that is stuck to the burn as it may cause more tissue damage.

"You can remove clothing that is near the burn but not stuck to it," it said.

3. Not running the burn under cold water for long enough

The next thing you need to do is run your little one's burn under cool water.

But many parents might forget this crucial step or won't do it for long enough.

Nikki said you should keep the wound under running water for at least 20 minutes.

Ex-paramedic and founder of first aid education platform Safer Little Steps, Ross Smith, said: "If you don't put cool water over the burn, it gets deeper and deeper and the burn gets worse."

You need to keep your child's burn under the water until it is cool to the touch, he added in a clip posted to TikTok.

If it's a large surface area burn, you could pop your little one in the shower and run cool water over them while trying to keep them calm until medics arrive, the ex-paramedic went on.

But the British Red Cross noted: "Avoid putting their whole body under a cold shower or in a cold bath as it could induce hypothermia."

3. Applying the dressing wrong

For smaller burns, once the burn seems a little less and sore and is cool to touch, you should put a non-stick dressing from a first aid kit over it, or a piece of clingfilm.

But Ross warned you shouldn't wrap the cling film around the burn – all you need to do is put the clingfilm over the top.

"What that does is help reduce the risk of infection," Ross said.

But you also need to cover any areas that aren't burned and make sure you're keeping your little one warm, Nikki from Tiny Hearts said.

5. Applying butter, cream or toothpaste to the burn

The Red Cross stressed that under no circumstances should you put butter, cream or toothpaste on the burn, as it will not cool the area.

"Butter and cream contain oils," it explained. "Oils retain heat, which is the opposite of what you’re trying to do. Toothpaste often contains menthol, which may give a superficial feeling of cooling, but does not effectively help a burn.

"If you put anything on top of a burn and it later needs to be removed in hospital, it may cause further pain and damage," it added.

You should also avoid putting ice on your little one's burn as it could damage the skin.

Use cold water to cool the burn instead, it said.

"If you don't have access to cold running water, pour other cold liquids such as milk, soft drinks or beer over the burn to cool it."

4. Not seeing a doctor

Any burn needs to be seen by a doctor, as it's likely it might get infected, Ross stressed.

Nikki shared a series of images to emphasise what a difference correct burns first aid makes.

The first image showed a little tot with an angry red burn spanning across their side and chest.

A picture from just two weeks later showed skin that was a much lighter shade of pink with a few scabby sections.

The child's burn was fully healed eight weeks later, according to the last image – all that remained was a slightly lighter patch of skin where the burn had been just two months before.

"Don't get burns first aid wrong," Nikki wrote. "Your child is relying on you to get it right."

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She wrote out the exact sequence of steps you need to go through if your little one gets scalded or burned.


  1. Remove all clothing and accessories in the injured area, but check that doing so won’t cause any further tissue damage – this includes nappies
  2. Apply cool running water for at least 20 minutes – this should be between 2 and 15 degrees
  3. Cover the burnt area with loose, nonstick dressing – you can use cling wrap to cover the burn but do not wrap it around the limb
  4. Cover the unburnt areas and keep your child warm
  5. Elevate the burn if possible to minimise swelling

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