Hot Water Burn  

Hot water on the skin can cause a first- or second-degree burn. A first-degree burn causes only redness and heals in a few days. A second-degree burn is deeper. It causes a blister to form. The blister may break and leak clear fluid. It may become infected. Second-degree burns take 1 to 2 weeks to heal.

Home care

These guidelines will help you care for your burn at home:

  • Immediately place your burn under cool water to decrease pain. Don't apply ice directly to the burn as freezing can worsen the burn.

  • On the first day, put a small towel soaked in cool water on the area to ease severe pain.

  • If no blister formed, you may use moisturizers that contain aloe vera.

  • If a blister formed and broke and a bandage was applied, change it once a day, or as directed. If the bandage sticks, remove it by soaking it in warm water. Wash the burned area daily with soap and water. Pat dry with a clean towel. For the next 3 to 5 days, put an antibiotic cream or ointment on the area after washing. This will help to prevent an infection and to keep the bandage from sticking.

  • If a blister formed, it will go down by itself. Or it will break on its own in the next few days. If the blister breaks, a clear fluid will leak from it for a day or two. The loose skin from the broken blister has no feeling. You can carefully trim away this skin with clean, small, sharp scissors. Sterilize the scissors by soaking them in alcohol first. Or wash with soap and water. Wash the raw surface under the blister daily with soap and water. For the next 3 to 5 days, put an antibiotic cream or ointment on the area after washing. This will help prevent an infection and keep the bandage from sticking.

  • You may use over-the-counter medicine to control pain, unless another pain medicine was prescribed. If you have chronic liver or kidney disease, talk with your healthcare provider before using acetaminophen or ibuprofen. Also talk with your provider if you've had a stomach ulcer or GI (gastrointestinal) bleeding. Don't give ibuprofen to children younger than 6 months old.

  • Don't pick or scratch at the affected areas. Use over-the-counter medicine for itching.

  • Wear a hat, sunscreen, and long sleeves while in the sun.

  • Don't wear tight-fitting clothes.

  • Add more calories and protein to your diet until the wound has healed. Drink plenty of water.

Follow-up care

Follow up with your healthcare provider, or as advised. Most hot water burns heal without becoming infected. Sometimes an infection happens even with correct treatment. You should watch for the signs of infection listed below.

When to seek medical advice

Call your healthcare provider right away if any of these occur:

  • Pain that gets worse

  • Redness or swelling that gets worse

  • Pus coming from the wound

  • Fever of 100.4º F (38º C) or higher, or as directed by your healthcare provider

  • The wound doesn't seem to be healing

  • Nausea or vomiting 

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