Flat Out Dangerous: Household Iron Burns in Children

Dr Teagan Fink1, Dr Courtney Hall1, Ms Alenka Paddle1, A/Prof Warwick Teague2

1Plastic and Maxillofacial Surgery, Royal Children’s Hospital, Parkville, Australia, 2Burns Unit, Royal Children’s Hospital , Parkville, Australia


To date, few studies have been conducted regarding household irons as an important cause of paediatric burns. We performed a retrospective review of iron burns at a large tertiary paediatric hospital from July 2015 to May 2018. We examined patient demographics, location of burn, total body surface area (TBSA), burn depth, level of supervision, first aid measures, surgical management and complications.

In the three-year study period 30 children sustained iron burns; and all were managed in the outpatient or day surgery setting. The majority of children were male (67%), toddler (1-2 years old, 83%) and sustained burns to the hand only (80%). Despite all burns involving a small surface area (<2% TBSA), 17% of children required surgical intervention, with one lost to follow up. 17% of iron burns had complications. Alarmingly, 45% were unsupervised at the time of the burn. Only 37% of children received the recommended first aid for burns in Australia.

Paediatric iron burns have significant morbidity and an economic impact upon hospital resources. Inadequate supervision was common amongst patients with iron burns in our population. It follows that prevention and education programs aimed at caregivers could reduce the incidence and sequelae of iron burns in this age group, given their common place in many households.


Dr Teagan Fink is a Plastic and Maxillofacial Surgical Resident at the Royal Children’s Hospital.  During her six month rotation with the unit, she undertook research into paedatric burns.  She is also employed as a Surgical Resident at St Vincent’s Hospital Melbourne.


ANZBA is a not for profit organisation and the peak body for health professionals responsible for the care of the burn injured in Australia and New Zealand. ANZBA encourages higher standards of care through education, performance monitoring and research.

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