Health Library
Burn Dressing Changes

How Do You Change a Burn Dressing?

After a child has received and been treated for a burn, the burn dressings need to be changed at home.

Below are general guidelines for caring for your child at home after he/she has experienced a burn.

Needed Supplies

  • Kerlix or gauze wrap
  • Gauze pads and Adaptic gauze
  • Clean basin or tub
  • Paper tape
  • Antibacterial soap
  • Antibiotic ointment

Changing the Burn Dressing

Wash the burned area twice daily, once in the morning and once in the evening. After bathing, apply a clean dressing as described below.

  1. Wash your hands and work space with soap and water.
  2. Assemble all supplies and place them within reach of your work space.
  3. Carefully remove the old dressing, allowing any loose skin and drainage to pull away from the burn. If dressing is firmly stuck to the burn, it may be loosened with warm water. Promptly discard the old dressing.
  4. Wash your hands with soap and water.
  5. Clean the burn area with soap using circular movements starting from the center and moving outward, do not scrub. Remove all loose skin and old ointment. Rinse completely. It is OK to shower or bathe normally unless you have been instructed otherwise.
  6. Spread antibiotic ointment on Adaptic gauze over the burn site as demonstrated by your nurses and doctors before leaving the hospital.
  7. Apply prepared dressing to the burn area. Wrap securely with Kerlix or gauze wrap. Apply tape.


  • Consider giving pain medication 30 minutes prior to the dressing change.
  • The area that was burned should appear pink and may bleed slightly after cleaning.
  • Call your physician if there is a fever greater than 101.
  • Provide your child with emotional comfort after the dressing change. Depending on the child's age, a light cover, holding, patting or soothing talk may help to ease the discomfort.
  • If the dressing falls off or the area becomes soiled before the next dressing change, repeat the dressing steps and apply a new dressing.
  • More supplies can be obtained from your local drugstore if needed.

Activity After a Burn

In general, your child can resume all normal activities, unless otherwise directed by your child's doctor. Encourage normal movement of the burned body part.


Encourage your child to drink plenty of fluids and to eat a high-calorie, high-protein diet. Skin tissue needs lots of calories to heal.

Medication / Pain

Pain medication may be given for discomfort. Your child's doctor will instruct you on the dosage and type of medicine to be given. Give medication at least 30 minutes before changing the dressing.

Call Your Child's Doctor If:

  • Your child has a fever greater than 101
  • Your child has green or foul-smelling drainage from the wound
  • Redness of the skin around the burn extends past the edges of the burn
  • Your child has discoloration, coldness or swelling of the arm or leg
  • Your child is not eating or drinking in usual amounts

Last Updated 09/2022

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The Burn and Wound Care Clinic treats all types of burn injuries in children of all ages. Contact Us