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Burns: Frequently asked questions fact sheet

Burns: Frequently asked questions

Burns can be very painful injuries and superficial burns are often more painful than deeper ones. With new burns, most of the pain is caused by exposed nerve endings and is often relieved by covering the wound.

Should I give my child pain relief once the wound is dressed?

If your child requires pain relief at home use over-the-counter medications such as paracetamol or ibuprofen from your local chemist.

If the pain persists, please contact your general practitioner (GP) for advice or take your child to the Emergency Department at the Queensland Children’s Hospital.

Will the injury need a skin graft?

The decision to graft the burn will be made by your child’s consultant and will depend on the type and severity of the injury. They will discuss the options, risks and benefits of this procedure.

Will the burn leave a scar?

A burn that heals within two to three weeks usually doesn’t scar. Your child’s burn will be monitored over the time it takes to heal to determine the possibility of scarring and the need for scar management therapy.
If a need for scar management arises, you will be referred to an occupational therapist within the unit.

Why is my child’s skin itchy?

As the wounds heal, the skin becomes very dry. It is important that you encourage your child not to scratch or rub but to pat the affected area. Applying a water-based, perfume-free moisturiser such as Sorbolene™ or Aqueous cream™ to the uncovered skin three to four times per day, or when itchy, can help relieve the itch. Bathing additives such as Dermaveen Bath Treatment™ or QV Oil™ may also assist. Moisturising helps keep the skin soft and supple and helps prevent cracking and itching. We recommend you moisturise your child’s wound at least five times a day or more frequently if your child is complaining about being itchy. If your child’s skin is extremely itchy, ask your doctor about antihistamine medication.

Can I wash my child with the dressing on?

We recommend that you sponge your child or, where possible, bathe with the affected limb out of water. Generally the dressings should not be immersed in water. However, check with the clinic nurse when the dressings are applied as all dressings are different. Please contact the nurse if the dressings become soiled, excessively wet or fall off, to discuss whether the dressings will require changing earlier than your scheduled appointment time.

What exercise can my child do?

Returning to normal activities is very important for the healing process. However, newly healed skin can be very fragile and susceptible to damage from knocks and bumps. Therefore, it may be necessary to postpone, or limit, the continuation of some activities (e.g. contact sports) until the skin is completely healed and strong enough. Some activities may be continued with protective dressings. Please discuss this with your doctor. A physiotherapist can also prescribe stretches that may benefit your child.

Contact us

Burns Outpatients Unit (5e)
Queensland Children’s Hospital
Level 5, 501 Stanley Street, South Brisbane
t: 07 3068 2830
t: 07 3068 1111 (general enquiries)

In an emergency, always call 000.

If it’s not an emergency but you have any concerns, contact 13 Health (13 43 2584). Qualified staff will give you advice on who to talk to and how quickly you should do it. You can phone 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Resource No: FS009. Developed by Burns Unit. Updated: January 2017. All information contained in this sheet has been supplied by qualified professionals as a guideline for care only. Seek medical advice, as appropriate, for concerns regarding your child’s health.