Globally, burns are the sixth most common injury type, and fire alone accounts for more than 300,000 deaths each year. In high-income countries such as Australia and New Zealand, burn injury incidence is lower due to regulations addressing smoke detectors, hot water temperature controls and flame-retardant sleepwear for children.1 In 2016–17, approximately 2,300 adults and almost 1,000 children were admitted to burn units across Australia and New Zealand.2

Learning objectives

After reading this article, pharmacists should be able to:

  • Assess a burn wound for appropriate treatment or referral
  • Perform appropriate burn first aid
  • Identify and select appropriate burn wound dressings
  • Provide appropriate advice to patients with burns.

Competencies (2016) addressed: 1.1, 1.3, 1.4, 1.5, 2.1, 2.2, 2.3, 3.1, 3.2, 3.3, 3.6.

Accreditation number: CAP1904A

Case scenario

Jacob, a seven-year-old boy, attends your pharmacy with his mother. He sustained a burn to the inside of his calf from a motorbike exhaust a few days ago. The burn is half the size of his hand, looks white and does not hurt. Jacob’s mum wants a dressing for the wound. What assessment do you make and what advice do you give?

Test your knowledge on this article’s assessment questions here to earn up to 1.5 Group 2 CPD credits.