When ‘remedies’ make things worse

  • Nation
  • Tuesday, 30 Sep 2014

High-tech apparatus: HKL director Datuk Dr Zaininah Mohd Zain (left) and Dr Noor Hisham (centre) checking out medical equipment at an exhibition booth during the seminar.

KUALA LUMPUR: Soy sauce, toothpaste, butter, egg white and salt – these are just some of the things that ill-informed parents apply to burns suffered by their children.

“Parents often don’t know what to do when children are burnt or scalded and apply things which make it worse,” said Dr Mohd Yusof Abdullah, a paediatric surgeon at Hospital Kuala Lumpur’s Burn Unit.

He said administering unsterile substances could infect the wound.

“We have seen burns made worse by the application of home remedies, resulting in the cases needing surgery,” he said at the 3rd HKL Burn Seminar yesterday.

Dr Mohd Yusof advised parents and child minders to run tap water on the wound for 20 minutes.

Ice should not be used as extreme cold can cause hypothermia.

Burns are the 11th leading cause of child deaths, with those four years old and below at the greatest risk.

“Parents must supervise and monitor their children closely. Most child burn cases are preventable,” he said, adding that serious burns could take up to six months to heal.

case studies mentioned by Dr Mohd Yusof included a child who touched an electrical wire atop a commuter train, resulting in 70% of his body covered with burns.

Another involved a child who played with matches and started a fire that claimed his father’s life and left him with burns on 45% of his body.

“It is sad dealing with children, especially when changing their dressings,” he said.

The two-day HKL Burn Seminar covers various aspects of burns, including infection control and reconstructive surgery.

Health Ministry director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah who opened the seminar, said HKL had received 121 burn cases so far this year, with 10 deaths.

“I hope more units will be opened at hospitals nationwide due to the increase in outpatients for burns,” he said.

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