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Questions and answers aboutburns

Here are some questions people often ask. If you have a question that isn’t answered here, please feel free to email us at firstaid@redcross.org.uk or use this form.

Q

Should I put butter or cream on a burn? I’ve heard that will help.

Answer
Answer

No. Butter does not cool the area. All oils retain heat, which is the opposite of what you’re trying to achieve. 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.

Put the burn under cold running water for at least ten minutes, then cover it with cling film or a clean plastic bag.

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Q

Should I use ice to cool the burn?

Answer
Answer

No – use water only. Ice may further damage the skin.

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Q

How do I know when to go to hospital?

Answer
Answer

Call 999 or go straight to hospital if a child has been burned. If an adult has burned their face or genital area, or if you are in any serious doubt how severe the burn is, seek medical advice.

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Q

If clothes are stuck to the burn, should I try to remove them?

Answer
Answer

No. Remove any clothing or jewellery near the burned area, but don’t try to remove anything that’s stuck to the burn. This could cause more damage.

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Q

Should I put a plaster over a burn to make sure it doesn't get infected?

Answer
Answer

Don’t use any adhesive bandages as they’ll stick to the skin and may cause further damage. Cover the burn with cling film or a clean plastic bag – this will help prevent infection.

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