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Caring for your child’s burn at home

How do I care for my child’s burn?

All dressings should be left in place until the next dressing change appointment. If your child’s dressing gets wet or falls off then you should contact the ward and arrange to come and have the dressing replaced.

If the nurse gave you spare dressings and advice to change the dressing at home between appointments then please make sure your child’s wound stays dressed between dressing changes. This will make sure the wound heals as quickly as possible.

Will my child be scarred when their burn or scald injury has healed?

We do everything we can to minimise any scarring your child may be left with, most children we see do not have any long term scarring. The burns team will be able to explain if they think your child’s burn is likely to cause a scar. After the burn has healed we have several options available to improve the appearance of any scarring your child may have. These can include:

  • moisturiser
  • massage
  • pressure garments
  • silicone gel

Will my child need to rest when at home?

Yes, your child will need plenty of rest. When your child first goes home after their injury they may feel very tired and lack energy which is quite normal. It is important to your child’s recovery that you let them have time to rest and recover.

Will my child be able to have a bath or shower?

Your child’s dressing needs to stay in place to make sure it heals as quickly as possible. They will need help with washing as the dressing must stay dry.

It may be best to strip wash your child at home. There is a bath available on the burns ward, please ask the nurse if you are able to bath your child during your appointment (this is only available at morning appointments) and it may be dependant on your child’s wound. The nurse will give advice on whether you can bathe your child please ask if you are not sure.

Will we get any medications to take home?

Your child may need regular mild pain killers to help. Give them paracetamol every 6 hours and, if they need some more pain relief, give them ibuprofen every 8 hours. If your child needs more than this please let the burns team know.

Give your child some pain relief 1 hour before their dressing change as this will keep them comfortable during their appointment. Do this even if they have not needed pain relief while at home as the dressing change can be painful without painkillers. If you forget, we will give them pain relief when you arrive but this may significantly delay your appointment time.

How will I know if my child’s wounds become infected?

If your child has an infected wound they will complain of, and you will notice, some or all of the following:

  • loss of appetite
  • high temperature
  • being or feeling sick
  • diarrhoea
  • very tired
  • increase in pain from the wound area
  • redness and swelling around the wound or affected limb
  • excessive leakage from the dressings
  • unpleasant odour from the dressing that you have not noticed before

If any of the above happens, please telephone the burns unit on 0114 226 0694.

Are there any special foods my child can eat to help healing?

It is very important that your child has a high protein, well balanced diet. For example, milk, cheese, yoghurt, fish, meat, tofu, vegetables and cereals. This helps to prevent any wound breakdown and helps clear up any infections.

Can I use sun cream on my child’s burned area?

Yes, you can use sun cream once the burned area has healed. It is important to cover up all the affected areas when out in the sun. If the area cannot be covered up, apply a total sun block cream and stay in the shade. The sun can very easily damage newly healed skin causing permanent changes to the skin colour and skin damage.

Will my child experience any problems sleeping?

Sometimes this might be a problem because of pain or itch. If it is a problem then give your child paracetamol or ibuprofen just before going to bed for pain, or chlorphenamine for itch.

Your child may experience flashbacks or nightmares relating to the accident. It is normal for this to happen after a traumatic injury. Gradually these should settle down with time and stop being a problem. However if they continue and cause your child anxiety or emotional problems, contact the burns ward and nursing staff will arrange for you to see the burns psychologist.

Will my child have to wear any special clothing?

Your child may feel more comfortable wearing loose fitting, cool clothes to avoid rubbing and chafing of sensitive skin.

Will my child see the physiotherapist?

If needed, your child will have physiotherapy when they attend their appointment. It is important for your child to carry on with any exercises they are given once they are at home. This will help your child’s recovery and will help the affected area move as normal.

Will my child continue to see the occupational therapist?

If needed, your child will see the occupational therapist during your dressing change appointment. They may give you exercises and can advise you about the risk of scarring and care of your child  after the injury is healed to improve the appearance of any scarring that may develop.

When can my child return to school?

Your child may be at increased risk of becoming unwell after a burn injury, which can delay healing and increase the risk of scarring. We suggest your child stay home from nursery or school if possible and you minimise mixing in large groups or crowds, however you need to make the decision that is best for your child. Please discuss this with the burns staff and they can help to explain the risks for your child.

Will my child be able to do their physical activities?

It is important for your child to resume their normal activities at home as much as possible. Do not let your child do any physical activity, such as cycling and running.

Eventually swimming is good exercise once your child’s skin is fully healed if they shower before getting dressed. It is important to wash the pool water and chlorine off.

Contact sports such as football, rugby, hockey and so on, should be avoided whilst your child’s wounds are newly healed and new skin remains sensitive or fragile.

If you are worried or have any questions please ask the burns nurses or therapy team

Will we need any follow-up appointments?

You will be given appointments to return to burns dressings clinic for dressing changes and wound checks. It is very important that your child’s wound is redressed regularly and that they see the physiotherapist and occupational therapist if necessary.

Please contact the burns nurse on ward 2 and the burns unit if you are unable to attend your appointment as soon as possible so we can make a new appointment. If you do not attend the appointment, the nurse will contact you to arrange another appointment. If we are consistently unable to contact with you to make your appointment, we may contact your health visitor, GP, child’s school or a social worker.

Please be aware that the calls from the hospital will come from a withheld number, we will identify ourselves and your child when we speak to you.

Once your child’s healing is progressing well and you are comfortable managing it you may be given a telephone appointment. You will be given dressings and instructions to change your child’s dressing at home. You will also be asked to email a clear photo of your child’s wound to burns.dressings@nhs.net along with your child’s name.

Contact us

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact:

  • Burns unit on 0114 226 0694
  • Occupational therapy on 0114 271 7418
  • Physiotherapy on 0114 271 7227
  • Social work department on 0114 271 7310
  • Main hospital number on 0114 271 7000
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Please note: this is a generic information sheet relating to care at Sheffield Children’s NHS FT. These details may not reflect treatment at other hospitals. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professionals’ instructions. If this resource relates to medicines, please read it alongside the medicine manufacturer’s patient information leaflet. If this information has been translated into another language from English, efforts have been made to maintain accuracy, but there may still be some translation errors. If you are unsure about any of the guidance in this resource or have specific questions about how it relates to your child, always ask your healthcare professional for further advice.

Resource number: BU10

Resource Type: Article

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