There are many questions that people have concerning burn first aid treatment. Below are some of the common questions and answers. If your question is not here, please contact us.

1. Why do I need to use cool running water for 20 minutes?

Our research has shown that cold, running water applied for 20 minutes will significantly improve the healing of burn wounds so that they heal faster and with less scarring. Twenty minutes seems like a long time, but scars last even longer.

2. Can I soak the burnt area in the water instead of flushing it – what if I don't have enough water?

If you don't have enough water you can cool the burn by soaking a small area (e.g. a hand or foot) in a container of water. If the burn area is large (e.g. on the chest or back), do not soak the entire person, this will increase the chances of them getting hypothermia. Instead wet some towels and apply these towels to the burnt area only.

3. When should I seek medical advice?

Seek medical attention for all children's burns by calling the ambulance or going to the hospital. For burns on an adult, seek medical attention if the burn is larger than the size of a 50 cent coin, if it is located on the hands, face or groin area, or if the burn appears white in colour (this means it is deep).

4. How should I treat a blister resulting from burns?

Do not pop the blister yourself, this can increase the risk of the wound getting infected. Instead, after "remove and cool", cover the burn with a clean bandage.

5. What shouldn't I put on a burn?

Do not put ice on a burn. Do not put household substances such as butter, oil, flour, toothpaste, sauce, onions or moisturizer on a burn. They do not help and can make things worse.

6. Are aloe gel and other kind of ointment helpful?

These ointments may decrease the pain of a burn, but they will not help the burn to heal. Cold running water will significantly improve the healing of the burn. Use cold running water first and if there is still pain, take pain-relieving medication (e.g. paracetamol). If your child tolerates paracetamol, please give it to them! After treating with cold water, apply clingwrap or a clean cloth, not other ointments.

7. Why shouldn't I use ice or an ice pack?

Ice will not improve burn wound healing, whereas cold running water will. Ice may even cause a cold burn if used inappropriately. Use cold running water instead.

8. What can I do if my children are in a lot of pain?

If your child tolerates paracetamol, please give it to them to relieve their pain. If the paracetamol is not relieving their pain, make sure you seek medical attention (call the ambulance or go to hospital).

9. What should I do if there is no running water around?

If you have access to any water, wet a clean towel and apply this to the burn area. This will be sufficient if you can get to a tap within the next couple of hours. Within 3 hours, cool the burn under running water for 20 minutes. If the burn area is large, deep or in a delicate area, seek medical attention immediately.

10. If my child feels cold while flushing water, should I stop?

Yes. If the patient is shivering, and they look cold (e.g. pale lips and fingers), stop immediately.

11. If the hospital is next to my house, can I go to emergency immediately?

Go to emergency AFTER you have applied cold running water for 20 minutes. At the hospital they may not be able to attend to you straight away, so it is a good idea to apply first aid treatment before you go.