Mein Baby ist krank - Verbrennungen bei Kleinkindern.

Burns and scalds in children



Getting burns and scalds are the most common accidents during childhood. Burns are caused by thermal exposure. Scalding is caused by exposure to hot liquids or steam.

The degree of burn/scalding depends on the temperature, the duration of the exposure, the conductivity of the tissue and the speed with which emergency measures are taken.

Causes (a selection):

  • hot stoves
  • hot fireplaces
  • hot bath water (over 37 °C)
  • hot-water bottles (over 40 °C)
  • hot drinks (over 37 °C: careful when using the microwave!)
  • electric heated blankets in cribs
  • hot cherry pit cushions
  • switched-on irons
  • burning candles


Superficial (first-degree):
  • pain
  • red skin
  • swelling of the skin
Superficial partial thickness (second-degree):
  • severe pain.
  • red skin.
  • blistering, usually sealed blisters.
  • the base of the wound is bright red.
Deep partial thickness (second-degree):
  • less pain (extends into deeper dermis and nerves may already be damaged)
  • red skin
  • blistering – these frequently pop
  • the base of the wound is light red or whitish
Full thickness (third-degree):
  • no pain (because nerve endings have died off)
  • skin appears black, white or grey and leathery
  • death of tissue (necrosis)
  • no pain (because nerve endings have died off)
  • black, charred areas of the body.

 What can mum/dad do?

  • Remove the heat source as soon as possible.
  • For burns covering a small area of the arms or legs: cool extensively with running water or cold compresses (20 °C, not ice-cold water or cold packs!).
  • Call 144 in case of extensive burns!
  • Never apply ointments, oils or fats to the injury, as this will prolong the exposure time and aggravate the burn.
  • Never sprinkle flour, powders, toothpaste etc. onto the wound, as this does not help and increases the risk of infection.
  • Do not pop blisters caused by burns!


For extensive burns/scalds: call 144 immediately!

 When should you see a doctor?


For extensive burns/scalds: call 144 immediately!
  • For burns larger than a five-franc coin.
  • For burns where the blister popped straight away.
  • For burns on the face, genitals, joints, hands and feet.
  • When babies have drunk from a bottle that is too hot and then cry and refuse to eat more food.

How to avoid burns?

  • When children are present, use only the rear hobs for cooking.
  • Mount a stove safety guard.
  • Do not fill hot-water bottles with too hot water, and do not fill them entirely to prevent the hot-water bottle from exploding due to the pressure caused by steam.
  • Take care when warming food and drinks in the microwave: while the containers often feel cool or lukewarm on the outside, the contents can be boiling hot. This can be the case both with baby bottles and cherry pit cushions. Therefore, always check the temperature with the skin on your wrist.
  • Never leave an iron unattended and be sure to unplug it when you have to leave it for a short time.