Best First Aid for Mild, Moderate Burns is Cooling with Running Water for 20 mins, Says Study

Twenty minutes of cooling with running water is the best initial treatment for a child’s burn, according to a study which may lead to new clinical first aid recommendations for mild to moderate burns.

According to the study, published in the journal Annals of Emergency Medicine, cool running water can reduce the odds of needing a skin graft, accelerate healing, and lessen the chance that a young burn victim requires admission to the hospital.

The study assessed nearly 2,500 children with a median age of two years undergoing treatment for burns at a hospital in Australia.

According to the researchers, including those from the University of Queensland in Australia, the patients were treated mostly for mild to moderate scalds, liquid or steam burns, on or near their arms or legs.

“If a child is burned, the first course of treatment should be 20 minutes of cool running water,” said Bronwyn R. Griffin, study co-author from the University of Queensland in Australia.

“Cool running water is most effective immediately after a burn occurs, but evidence suggests it remains beneficial for up to three hours following an injury,” Griffin said.

According to the study, children who received adequate first aid involving 20 minutes or more of cooling with running water had the odds of skin grafting reduced by more than 40 per cent.

It said treating burns with any amount of cool running water was associated with reduced odds of hospital admission by nearly 36 per cent, and lowered the odds of requiring operation by about 42 percent.

The scientists also found that healing among patients who did not require grafting was faster with the administration of any cool running water, which also reduced the risk of tissue scarring.

Burns which were cooled with running water fared better than those that received no first aid, or alternatives like aloe gels, compresses, toothpaste, butter, or egg whites, the study noted.

“Whether you are a parent or paramedic, administering 20 minutes of cool running water to a child’s burn is highly recommended. This is the most effective way to lessen the severity of tissue damage from all thermal burns,” Griffin said.