A boiling water burn or a scald is caused by direct contact with very hot water or steam. When your skin is scalded, you'll feel immediate pain. Over one million patients seek emergency treatment for burns in the U.S. -- and at least 10,000 people die from burn-related infections annually.
Boiling water burns can also be deliberate, like when you're attacked, and someone pours or throws the water at you. These kinds of burns are dangerous because they may cover more of your body than burns you get from accidentally spilling boiling water.
Boiling water usually causes more serious burns than hot water.
Follow these tips to prevent boiling water burns:
After getting scalded with boiling water, you'll feel a sudden, sharp pain. But if you or someone else suffers from third-degree burns or full-thickness burns, damage to the nerves under the skin can make you think that you're not hurt at all.
A first-degree burn or a superficial burn is a relatively minor injury that damages part of the epidermis or the first layer of your skin. This occurs when boiled water lightly splashes on you while cooking or when boiling water briefly touches your skin.
A second-degree burn, or a partial-thickness burn, damages the epidermis and the dermis or the top of the second layer of skin. These burns are more serious, and they may occur if boiling water remains on the skin longer.
Second-degree burns may take two to three weeks to heal. In some cases, you may need a skin graft to treat this type of burn. Partial-thickness burns often leave scars that may fade after several years.
A third-degree burn or full-thickness burn is severe, and it penetrates all layers of your skin.
Full-thickness burns may cause serious infections. They can also be fatal if you don't receive immediate medical treatment. Immersion in boiling water for a long time may cause a third-degree burn.
Third-degree burns may require hospitalization and treatment may include skin grafting, surgery, or medication.
Applying immediate first aid may help reduce the risk of serious complications after getting a boiling water burn. (Related: Why first aid training is a must for all preppers.)
If you sustain a boiling water burn, follow the tips below.
You may require emergency treatment if the burn:
Get medical help immediately if a person:
Consult a physician if signs of infection occur, such as fever, red streaks, or draining pus.
Follow the tips below to treat minor burns:
In most cases, first-degree burns will heal with the proper home treatment. Second-degree burns on large areas of the body and third-degree burns often require professional evaluation and treatment. The patient often needs weeks or months to recover.
Some complications of severe burns may include:
Boiling water burns are common and applying emergency first aid immediately may help prevent serious complications and save someone's life.