Dealing with burns

Pediatrician Alan Nagar, MD, MHA, Emergency Medicine, Children's Hospital Los Angeles, shares advice for parents on to treat your child's burns and how to know if it is serious enough to see a doctor
Pediatric First Aid - Treating Burns on Children
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Dealing with burns

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We see a number of children who get burned. Sometimes the parent accidentally spills hot soup, coffee, water on their child. Sometimes the child literally reaches up and grabs a hot fluid off the stove or off a counter table so it's a common occurrence. We see kids who have small burns to very extensive burns on various parts of their body. As a parent, the most important thing is really to cool the burn down. Put a cold compress, in other words, take a washcloth or a clean towel, put it under very cold water, and then lay it across the burned area. If it's easy enough to put the body part under cold water, for instance, a hand or a foot, then that can be done in place of a cold towel. But what you don't want to do as a parent is to put ice on a burn because ice actually can make the burn worse. Burns often bubble up so they form blisters. If you put ice, that actually can make that blistering and that bubbling worse than it otherwise would have been. The other thing to do is to not put those substances that may make healing difficult. For instance, we see parents who put avocado, toothpaste, sand, tomato sauce on burns, and then we have a hard time as clinicians trying to clean off those substances. So the best thing, again, is put a cold compress, no ice, and seek emergency care in an emergency department. Burns to a parent may look relatively insignificant and not serious, but for us as clinicians, we can assess the burn and determine how severe the burn really is. So a small burn may be a deep burn that requires serious and timely medical attention.

Pediatrician Alan Nagar, MD, MHA, Emergency Medicine, Children's Hospital Los Angeles, shares advice for parents on to treat your child's burns and how to know if it is serious enough to see a doctor

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Alan Nager, MD, MHA

Pediatrician, Emergency Medicine, Children’s Hospital Los Angeles

Dr. Alan Nager is Head of the Division of Emergency and Transport Medicine at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. He is an Associate Professor of Pediatrics at the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California. Dr. Nager received his undergraduate degree in Public Heath and Child Psychology, his graduate degree in Healthcare Administration, his medical degree from the University of Minnesota Medical School and his training in Pediatric Emergency Medicine at the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh.  He has lectured extensively on a variety of emergency medicine topics, appeared numerous times in the media, and published extensively on topics such as dehydration, trauma, mental health, disaster preparedness, etc. He has also authored a children’s book entitled, Angels in Action: One Day in the Emergency Department.

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