The first thing that people do after getting a burn is run to rinse it under cool tap water. And now even scientists have backed the practice, by suggesting that cold running water is still the best first-aid treatment for burns.
However, they are still clueless about why this happens.
That's what was told to The Scientific Congress of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (RACS) where Professor Roy Kimble, director of the Burns and Trauma Unit at the Royal Children's Hospital in Brisbane said that though there is an increase in the use of alternative treatments for burns, water still rules the roost.
"We don't know why the water running over the burn makes a difference, but it does," the Daily Telegraph quoted Kimble, as saying.
He indicated that alternative treatments had no real benefit, while water "lessens the depth of the burn, which speeds healing, which in turn limits scarring".
He further added that a number of RACS studies have already shown that water had an upper hand on at most of the alternative treatments on the market, such as aloe vera or tea tree products. But still he cautioned against using ice for treating burns as it may end up doing more harm than good.
"We will investigate over the next few years why running water is so important, what the optimal duration is and the delay after the burn where such first-aid treatment is still worthwhile. We believe such research will form the basis of first-aid burns treatment guidelines for the rest of the world," he said.
The Children's Hospital at Westmead recommends parents that if their children get scalds they should pour cold water on the burn for at least 20 minutes.
For those who apply a cold wet cloth, they should rinse it in cold tap water every minute so that the cloth doesn't get warmed up at all. Even they advise against applying ice, iced water or any other creams or lotions.
During his address to the conference Kimble also called for federal government funding of microskin camouflage, a computer colour-matched camouflage used by burns patients to disguise scarring. This spray-on product can last for days after being applied to scarred skin.
"Some people adjust to burns scars but others suffer great psychological distress because of the scarring. We believe this product should be funded to allow it to be available to those who need it," said Professor Kimble.
The congress is being attended by more than 2000 surgeons from across Australasia and they will be presenting more than 500 papers on the latest professional developments and innovations.