Time to put household remedies on ice

Despite what your grandmother may have passed down, Nurse Practitioner Robyn Totenhofer said the best treatment for burns is 20 minutes of running water. Photo: Melinda Jane
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In winter, the rate of minor burns rapidly rises as we plug in our heaters and boil the kettle more often.

But new research has revealed that the majority of Australians are treating their burns incorrectly, and actually making them worse.

Nurse Practitioner at Nepean Hospital Robyn Totenhofer said that some home remedies passed down through generations are doing more harm than good.

“When you get a burn, you do 20 minutes of cold running water,” she said.

“Do not put any ice on it and do not put butter on it. They actually cause the burn to become worse.”

While 88 per cent of Australian burns sufferers understand it is important to treat a burn immediately, two in three are still turning to home remedies for treatment.

National Burns Awareness Month is aiming to bust burn treatment myths as there are still too many misconceptions on treating household burns and scalds.

Ms Totenhofer said winter brings many children to Emergency after they’ve put their hands where they shouldn’t be.

“You need to be aware of where your children are, and if you have a heater whether you need to put a screen in front of it,” she said.

And if you’re celebrating near a fire and burn yourself, it’s always better to be safe than sorry and treat the burn with cool, running water.

“If alcohol is involved people sometimes take an extended time to come to the Emergency Department with sometimes quite nasty burns,” Ms Totenhofer said.

“If you don’t do good first aid, and you don’t put a dressing on, then the burn will get worse and take longer to heal.”

Scalds from a spilled cup of tea or coffee can cause significant damage, especially if it has landed on your lap.

“Taking garments off is a big thing because that holds the heat against your skin, a lot of garments have synthetic materials that can stick to your skin if you don’t take it off,” she said.

To best treat a burn, remember to ‘remove, cool and cover’.

Remove yourself from any danger and remove any garments from around the burn area, cool the burn under running water for 20 minutes, and cover the burn with a clean dressing. If serious enough, visit your local hospital.

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