What are the complications of scalds and burns?

Scalds and burns should be treated appropriately in order to prevent complications such as heat exhaustion, shock, scarring and infection. When it comes to both minor and major scalds and burns, it is important to perform the appropriate first aid care immediately that you can learn in a class on first aid in your area.

Usual complications of scalds and burns

Heat exhaustion and heatstroke

Both heat exhaustion and heatstroke are heat-related conditions that can occur once the temperature within the body goes higher than the normal range. Take note that both are serious and often caused by exposure to excessive heat or sunlight. It is vital to take note of the symptoms of heat exhaustion and heatstroke:

  • Dizziness or fainting
  • Fatigue and lack of energy
  • Vomiting
  • Headache
  • Rapid pulse rate
  • Irritability
  • Muscle pain
  • Confusion

The individual must be transferred to a cool place. Provide water to drink and loosen tight clothing. In case the condition worsens, it can lead to a heatstroke. Take note that this is a medical emergency that requires emergency assistance.

Shock after severe scalds and burns

scalds and burns

Headache is one of the symptoms of heatstroke.

During severe cases of scalds and burns, the individual might go into shock. It is a life-threatening condition that occurs if there is inadequate supply of oxygen to the body. Always remember that it is possible for shock to develop if the burn is severe.

Signs and symptoms of shock

  • Clammy or cold skin
  • Paleness
  • Rapid pulse rate
  • Quick, shallow breathing
  • Unconsciousness

Call for emergency assistance if the condition of the burn victim progresses into a shock. While waiting for the medical team to arrive, you have to position the individual lying down and raise the legs. Cover him/her with a blanket but leave the burned area exposed and do not provide anything to eat or drink.


Burns can become infected if bacteria are present. If there are open blisters on scalds and burns, it is at risk for infection if there is lack of proper cleaning. Always seek medical care for any burn that has blisters. The affected area is infected if the pain persists, has a foul smell, warm to the touch and swells.

In unusual cases, the infected wound can lead to blood poisoning or toxic shock syndrome. Both are life-threatening conditions that can be deadly if not treated right away. The indications of these conditions include dizziness, elevated temperature and vomiting.

Scarring of the area

In most cases of burns, it can leave scarring. Take note that a scar is basically a line or patch of tissue that remains after a wound has completely healed. Most cases of minor burns only leave insignificant scarring. There are ways in order to minimize the scarring by using a sunscreen that has a high SPF to protect the healing area from sun exposure and regular application of an emollient.

Generally, these complications of scalds and burns can be prevented as long you know the appropriate measures to take. Furthermore, always remember that severe burns should receive immediate medical care.


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