Cooling of thermal burn injuries: a literature review

Harriet Ashman
May 2018

Correct initial management of thermal burns is key in promoting patient outcomes. Cooling burns with cool running water (CRW) for 20 minutes has been shown to accelerate the wound healing process, improve cosmetic outcomes and prevent burn progression. This literature review aims to increase understanding of this simple first aid (FA) intervention, help inform paramedic practice, and determine areas for further research. Three themes came to light following systematic searching of the available literature. As a result of a paucity in evidence, a wide range of topics relating to cooling burns have been explored. The topics look at how patients and carers may approach FA in burns, how pre-hospital practitioners currently manage burns patients, and the best methods to use for cooling burns. Findings suggest that there is need for improved education for the lay public and pre-hospital providers in order to improve burn outcomes through FA interventions. While CRW is supported as a beneficial intervention, further research is required into alternative cooling methods to enhance care and evidence-based practice.

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