First aid for burns: the use of ice water and ice? (2007–2010)

Millions of people worldwide receive burn injuries every year and last year the Royal Children's Hospital in Brisbane alone treated more than 500 children with new burn injuries. Many of these children with burn injuries will heal burn wounds with unsightly scars and impaired skin function. Cooling burns as first aid has been used since ancient time and is proved to be the most effective way to reduce skin temperature, lessen pain, minimize the depth of injury, and ultimately improve wound healing outcome. However, despite the evidence that cooling burns using ice water <4 C may be beneficial to burns, current first aid recommend to only use cold water 8-25 C and the use of ice/ice water is strongly discouraged for fear of the potential to cause hypothermia and deepen the existing burn injury. In this application we will examine the effect of ice/ice water 2 C on wound healing outcome compared to 15 C water as first aid, in an in vivo model. The wound healing will be clinically assessed by experienced clinicians weekly for six weeks, and then will also be assessed histologically and mechanically at week six. We will also determine the optimal cooling temperature and duration for injured tissue in burn wounds to recover and the conduction of cold through skin. With the coming new knowledge we wish to design an optimal cooling burn treatment which will maximize the beneficial of cooling to the burns but avoid adverse effect of excessive cooling. The success of this project will advance our knowledge on first aid treatment or burn cooling treatment and also wound healing process. It will enable us to offer better first aid treatment which may lead to wound healing with less scars, otherwise can not achieved by other current available treatments. The better healing of burn wounds will significantly improve burn patients' lives, particularly children with burn injuries. It will also release the burden on much needed health funds.
Grant type:
NHMRC Project Grant
  • Academic Title-Professor
    Children's Health Queensland Clinical Unit
    Faculty of Medicine
    Academic Title-Professor
    Child Health Research Centre
    Faculty of Medicine
Funded by:
National Health and Medical Research Council