Old wives’ tales are no cure for burns

The British Red Cross is calling for parents to abandon old wives’ tales when it comes to treating children’s burns.

According to the charity’s survey, one in seven parents in the UK say their child or baby has suffered a burn. Yet more than one in 10 parents thinks they should use butter or margarine if their child suffers a burn or scald, with some even believing they should use toothpaste.

“People often think lotions and potions will have a cooling effect but in reality the most cooling treatment is going to be the water coming out of your tap,” says Joe Mulligan, British Red Cross head of first aid. “Young children in particular have more sensitive skin, so getting the treatment right is vital to help reduce painful scarring in the future.”

If your child has a scald or burn, here’s what the charity says you should do:

1. Cool the burn under cold running water for at least 10 minutes (this will help to reduce pain, swelling and the risk of scarring).

2. After the burn has cooled, cover it with cling film or a clean plastic bag to help prevent infection.

3. Call 111 and speak to a highly trained adviser to assess your symptoms and immediately be directed to the best medical care for you. For immediate, life-threatening emergencies, continue to call 999.

According to A&E statistics, hot drinks, hot food and cooking fats cause the majority of childhood burns in this country. So the British Red Cross is also warning parents about the danger of leaving hot drinks within reach of toddlers.

“Most people don’t realise drinks like tea remain hot enough to scald small children for up to 15 minutes after they are made so it’s really important they’re kept out of reach,” adds Mulligan.

Watch the charity’s video at www.redcross.org.uk/rappedup and download the free Red Cross baby and child first aid app.

Your local pharmacist can also help with over-the-counter products and advice for lots of different first aid situations, including burns and scalds. Find out more at your nearest Careway pharmacy (use our Pharmacy Finder to find a pharmacy where you live).