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Electrical Burn in Children


Electrical burns

are injuries that are caused by an electric current. The electric current can pass through your child's body and damage tissues or organs. An electric current may also jump from an electrical source to your child and burn his or her body.

Common symptoms include the following:

Your child's signs and symptoms will depend on where and how badly he or she is burned. Your child may have any of the following:

  • Burns or other injuries on his or her skin
  • Fast or abnormal heartbeat
  • Weakness, stiffness, or muscle pain
  • Red or reddish black urine
  • Problems moving or keeping his or her balance
  • Headache, dizziness, or problems with his or her memory
  • Trouble thinking or staying awake
  • Seizures
  • Trouble breathing
  • Swelling, bleeding, or damage in his or her mouth

Call your local emergency number (911 in the US) if:

  • Your child has trouble breathing.
  • Your child has a seizure.
  • Your child suddenly has trouble seeing or hearing.

Seek immediate care if:

  • Your child has red or reddish black urine.
  • Your child has a fast heartbeat.
  • Your child has problems walking or keeping his or her balance.

Call your child's doctor if:

  • Your child is dizzy or weak.
  • Your child has stiff joints or muscle pain.
  • Your child is confused or has memory loss.
  • You have questions or concerns about your child's condition or care.

Treatment for your child's electrical burn

may include any of the following:

  • Medicines:
    • Ointments may be placed on your child's burn area or be part of the bandage. These medicines prevent infection and help your child's burn heal.
    • Acetaminophen decreases pain and fever. It is available without a doctor's order. Ask how much to give your child and how often to give it. Follow directions. Read the labels of all other medicines your child uses to see if they also contain acetaminophen, or ask your child's doctor or pharmacist. Acetaminophen can cause liver damage if not taken correctly.
    • NSAIDs , such as ibuprofen, help decrease swelling, pain, and fever. This medicine is available with or without a doctor's order. NSAIDs can cause stomach bleeding or kidney problems in certain people. If your child takes blood thinner medicine, always ask if NSAIDs are safe for him or her. Always read the medicine label and follow directions. Do not give these medicines to children under 6 months of age without direction from your child's healthcare provider.
    • Do not give aspirin to children under 18 years of age. Your child could develop Reye syndrome if he takes aspirin. Reye syndrome can cause life-threatening brain and liver damage. Check your child's medicine labels for aspirin, salicylates, or oil of wintergreen.
    • Give your child's medicine as directed. Contact your child's healthcare provider if you think the medicine is not working as expected. Tell him or her if your child is allergic to any medicine. Keep a current list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs your child takes. Include the amounts, and when, how, and why they are taken. Bring the list or the medicines in their containers to follow-up visits. Carry your child's medicine list with you in case of an emergency.
  • Procedures:
    • Debridement is used to remove damaged tissue from your child's body. This helps prevent infection, decrease inflammation, and improve healing.
    • A skin graft or flap is when lost skin is replaced with healthy skin from another part of your child's body. A graft can help close your child's wounds, prevent infection, and decrease scarring. Skin flap surgery is done to fix large wounds that cannot be covered by skin grafting.
    • Escharotomy is used to relieve pressure caused by swelling and improves blood flow for healing. An incision is made through the dead tissue into the fat layer below.
    • Fasciotomy is used to release pressure that is caused by swollen muscles from the burn. Your child may be less likely to have more damage to your nerves, tissue, or organs.

Manage your child's electrical burn:

  • Use bandages as directed. Bandages will cover your child's burn area to keep it moist and clean. Ask how often you should change your child's bandage. You may clean your child's burn with soap and water.
  • Wear pressure garments if directed. Pressure garments help keep thick scars from forming. Your child may need to wear a garment for most of the day. Pressure garments are custom made to fit your child. Ask for more information about pressure garments.
  • Take your child to physical therapy. Physical therapy will help prevent stiffness and muscle loss, and decrease pain.
  • Massage your child's burn area after it heals. Massage may help prevent thick scars from forming.

Prevent an electrical burn:

  • Place socket covers on unused plugs. Use safety cords, such as circuit breakers or ground fault interrupters. Cover or fix any exposed wires. Replace damaged electric cords. Never allow your child to touch wires.
  • Watch your child when he or she is playing with electric toys. Turn off and unplug electric toys or machines when not in use. Do not use electric machines near water. Keep electric machines out of your child's reach.

Safety measures for children:

  • Never touch the following:
    • An electric outlet
    • An electric machine
    • A water heater or a radiator (room heater)
    • Anything during a storm that uses electricity, including computers, phones, or radios

Follow up with your child's doctor or burn specialist as directed:

Your child may need to return to have his or her wound checked and bandage changed. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Learn more about Electrical Burn in Children (Ambulatory Care)

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Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.