Caring for scalded skin

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Scalded skin is a burn caused by hot liquids or steam that can be very painful. Immediate treatment of the condition lessens discomfort. In a first-degree scald, the skin becomes red, swollen and painful. For a second-degree burn, there are blisters, swelling and pain while a third-degree burn is characterized by charred, leathery or skin that turns white.


  • Cool the affected skin under running tap water that is cool for at least 15 minutes until pain is minimized. Another way is soaking the affected area in cool water or applying a cold compress to prevent further spread of heat and lessen pain and stop the burning process. Avoid using ice or ice-cold water to prevent damage on the skin.
    Scalded skin
    Superficial burns cause redness, tenderness and swelling and medical care is not required.
  • Check for the severity of the affected area. Superficial burns cause redness, tenderness and swelling and medical care is not required.
  • If the affected person is unconscious or in shock and there are other additional injuries, the skin appears raw and blistering. In such cases, medical attention is needed immediately.
  • Remove any jewelry or clothing near the affected area to prevent difficulty in removing those items when the skin starts to swell. Remove rings immediately if the scalded area is the hand. Avoid removing jewelry and clothing that sticks to the skin to prevent the injury from worsening.
  • Pat the skin dry and avoid rubbing the area to prevent injuries to the tissues.
  • Take the prescribed pain medication such as paracetamol or ibuprofen to lessen the pain and swelling. Avoid giving aspirin to children below 16 years.
  • Wrap the affected area loosely using a sterile gauze bandage to protect the delicate tissues from infection. Avoid wrapping it too tight to prevent any disruption in the circulation in the area. Place a cold compress on top of the gauze to lessen the swelling and pain. Change the gauze at least every day. Keep the affected area covered with the bandage for at least 24 hours.
  • Elevate the area on pillows above the level of the heart to lessen pressure in the tissue of the damaged area and lessens the pain.
  • Avoid popping blisters and picking on the peeling skin to prevent infection.
  • Apply aloe vera to moisten and keep bacteria and air out of the burn. Apply aloe vera cream or gel at least 2-3 times every day.
  • Take Vitamin C supplements every day in divided doses for fast healing of the condition.


  • Use only cool water when washing burns.
  • Keep children away from stoves, ovens and irons
  • Avoid drinking hot beverages with a baby in the lap to avoid accidents.

Disclaimer / More Information

The material posted on this page on scalded skin is for learning purposes only. Learn to recognize and manage burns including scalded skin by taking a first aid and CPR class with one of our training providers.

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