Healthdirect Free Australian health advice you can count on.

Medical problem? Call 1800 022 222. If you need urgent medical help, call triple zero immediately

healthdirect Australia is a free service where you can talk to a nurse or doctor who can help you know what to do.

beginning of content

Burn and scald treatments

If you have a burn or a scald, you can:

  • make sure you are safe
  • put the burnt area under cool running water for at least 20 minutes, but don’t use ice
  • use a hydrogel for first aid if water is not available
  • remove any clothing near the burn that is not stuck to it
  • remove any jewellery near the burn if that is easy to do
  • take painkillers like paracetamol and anti-inflammatory tablets.

If it's a chemical burn, take off any contaminated clothing. For dry chemicals, brush off the chemicals before putting the burnt area under water.

If the burn is to your arm or leg, raise it whenever possible to reduce swelling.

Some things to avoid:

  • don’t put a child with burns into a bath full of cold water
  • if blisters develop don’t pop them, and visit your doctor in case they need to be removed
  • don’t use any ointments or creams on a burn. They seal heat in and cause more damage.

Most small burns will heal themselves in 10-12 days. If the burn does not have any blisters or broken skin, such as sunburn, a simple moisturiser such as sorbolene is the best treatment. For all other burns seek medical treatment for appropriate dressings.

If things get worse, or if you are not up to date with tetanus injections, see your doctor.

If you need urgent treatment call triple zero (000) or, if safe to do so, go to the nearest emergency department. The treatment for serious burns includes:

  • painkillers
  • dressings
  • perhaps admission to hospital
  • perhaps surgery.

Not sure what to do next?

If you are still concerned about your burn or scald, why not use healthdirect’s online Symptom Checker to get advice on when to seek medical attention.

The Symptom Checker guides you to the next appropriate healthcare steps, whether it’s self care, talking to a health professional, going to a hospital or calling triple zero (000).

Last reviewed: July 2015

Need more information?

These trusted information partners have more on this topic.

Found 35 results

Burns and Scalds

Read more on Queensland Health website

Kids' Health - Topics - Burns and scalds

You have probably heard about children getting badly burned sometimes, but I wonder if you have thought about how easily it could happen to you, and about the things you can do to make sure you don't get burned or scalded?

Read more on Women's and Children's Health Network website

Hot water and scalds | Kids Health

Read more on Sydney Children's Hospitals Network website

Parenting and Child Health - Health Topics - Scalds

Scalds are burns from hot liquids such as hot water, tea or coffee and by steam. They are a common cause of injury to young children, especially children between 12 and 24 months old. They happen easily and can cause serious problems for a long time if they are bad scalds.

Read more on Women's and Children's Health Network website

Burns first aid

Immediate first aid can make a difference to the burn victims treatment.

Read more on WA Health website

Young Adult Health - Health Topics - Burns

Burns can be caused by flames, ultraviolet (UV) radiation, hot liquids, electricity, lightning and certain chemicals. All burns require immediate first aid treatment. Partial and full thickness burns require urgent medical attention. Full thickness burns often require skin graft surgery.

Read more on Women's and Children's Health Network website

Caring for your healed burn

Your recently healed burn will be fragile and need care and protection.

Read more on WA Health website

Eye injury corneal flash burns

Corneal flash burns occur when a very strong light burns the surface of the eye (the cornea).

Read more on WA Health website

Caring for minor facial burn

Burns to the face can cause swelling in the first few days. It is very important for you to keep your face clean and well moisturised.

Read more on WA Health website

Caring for your healed burn with a retention dressing

A retention dressing can be left in place until it comes off by itself. It usually stays on for 5 to 7 days.

Read more on WA Health website

Check your symptoms Find a health service

Healthdirect 24hr 7 days a week hotline

24 hour health advice and information you can count on

1800 022 222

Government Accredited with over 140 information partners

We are a government-funded service, providing quality, approved health information

Australian Government, health department logo ACT Government logo New South Wales government, health department logo Northen Territory Government logo Government of South Australia, health department logo Tasmanian government logo Government of Western Australia, health department logo