Kids Health Info

Burns clinic at the RCH

  • This factsheet has information on how to prepare for your appointment at the Burns Clinic, what to expect and how to provide care at home. Burns Clinic is on the ground floor of the hospital in Specialist Clinics Reception A, desk A5. The clinic is held each Monday from 9.00am, Wednesday from 10.00am, and Friday from 1.30pm.

    Before you leave home

    • Half an hour before the dressing change, you should give your child some medicine such as paracetamol and/or ibuprofen to help with pain.
    • Apply olive oil to the tape edges to help remove the dressing. This can be done the night before your appointment.
    • Bring some comfort items your child may enjoy, for example a dummy, favourite toy or blanket, iPad or DS.
    • It is a good idea to bring a snack and a drink but do not give the food or drink to your child until after the dressing change. Sometimes children need to fast (ie have nothing to eat or drink) before the dressing change procedure.
    • Bring a POSITIVE attitude. Your child will feel more comfortable if you appear calm and supportive.

    At the hospital

    • We try to make every visit as comfortable as possible. During your visit we may have 'Clown Doctors' who provide entertainment and distraction for the children.
    • Our staff try to keep the environment pleasant and calm. Your child will be offered books or other activities. We encourage you to talk and play with your child to help them keep calm.
    • Sometimes a child may need extra help during a dressing change. Nitrous oxide (laughing gas) can be used. Certain safety criteria must be met before your child can have the gas.  (See Kids Health Info factsheet: Sedation - Nitrous oxide). Your child must not have had anything to eat or drink for at least two hours before having nitrous oxide.

    The dressing

    • Acticoat is a silver impregnated dressing that has antibacterial properties to help promote healing.
    • The dressing is moistened first, then put on your child and taped securely into place.
    • The wound may 'sting' when the dressing is first put on. This should stop within about 15-20 minutes.
    • Keep the dressing dry.
    • Leave the dressing in place until your next visit.  Add extra tape if you need to keep it in place.
    • A chemical reaction with the silver in the dressing can cause a green-grey coloured fluid to leak out onto the bandages. A moderate amount of leakage is normal, especially in the first two weeks.

    Itching / irritation

    • Overheating can cause the itch to be worse. Keep your child cool by not overdressing them - especially in bed.
    • Keep your child's finger nails trimmed. Scratching can damage the skin.
    • Some antihistamine medications may help. Talk to your family doctor or pharmacist.
    • Use sorbolene cream to moisten the skin that is not covered with dressings.

    Get medical advice if your child:

    • Becomes unwell, is not drinking enough fluids or does not seem their normal self.
    • Has increased pain or a temperature over 38.5º C

     If the dressing falls off:

    • Call the outpatient nurse - T: (03) 9345 9760
    • After hours call Platypus ward - T: (03) 9345 3653
    • Go to the RCH emergency department to have the wound looked at and a new dressing put on.

    For more information

    • RCH Outpatient Nurse
      T: (03) 9345 9760  Monday-Friday 8.30am - 4.30pm
    • After hours contact Platypus ward
      T: (03) 9345 3653
    • A social worker can provide counselling and other services that can be helpful when a child or family has a physical and/or emotional health problem or disability. For social work enquires please call (03) 9345 6111 during office hours or take a look at their website

    See other Kids Health Info factsheets:

    1. Sedation - nitrous oxide
    2. Reduce children's pain during tests and procedures


    Developed by RCH Specialist Clinics Burns Clinic and RCH Burns Unit. First published August 2007. Updated June 2015.

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This information is intended to support, not replace, discussion with your doctor or healthcare professionals. The authors of these consumer health information handouts have made a considerable effort to ensure the information is accurate, up to date and easy to understand. The Royal Children's Hospital, Melbourne accepts no responsibility for any inaccuracies, information perceived as misleading, or the success of any treatment regimen detailed in these handouts. Information contained in the handouts is updated regularly and therefore you should always check you are referring to the most recent version of the handout. The onus is on you, the user, to ensure that you have downloaded the most up-to-date version of a consumer health information handout.