Effectiveness of a Hydrogel Dressing as an Analgesic Adjunct to First Aid for the Treatment of Acute Paediatric Burn Injuries

Ms Maleea D Holbert1,2,3, Dr Bronwyn R Griffin1,3,4, Professor Steven M McPhail5,6, Professor Roy M Kimble1,2,3

1Centre for Children’s Burns and Trauma Research, Child Health Research Centre, South Brisbane,, 4101, 2Faculty of Medicine, The University of Queensland, St Lucia,, 4067, 3Pegg Leditschke Paediatric Burns Centre, The Queensland Children’s Hospital, South Brisbane,, 4101, 4Faculty of Health, School of Nursing, Queensland University of Technology, Kelvin Grove,, 4059, 5Centre for Functioning and Health Research, Metro South Health, Brisbane,, 4102, 6School of Public Health and Social Work, and Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane,, 4059


Hydrogel dressings have gained widespread use in the prehospital setting for acute burn injuries, with anecdotes to suggest these dressings provide analgesia via an evaporative cooling effect (Fein et al. 2014). A prospective randomised controlled trial was undertaken comparing Burnaid® hydrogel dressing to plasticised polyvinylchloride film. Paediatric patients (≤16 years) presenting to the Emergency Department at the Queensland Children’s Hospital, Brisbane, Australia, with an acute thermal burn (<20% total body surface area) were approached for participation in the trial from September 2017 – September 2018. Patients were randomised to receive either (1) Burnaid® hydrogel dressing (Intervention) or (2) Plasticised polyvinylchloride film (Control) as an acute burn dressing following appropriate first aid. Repeated measures of pain, stress, and re-epithelisation were collected at burn dressing changes until 95% wound re-epithelialisation occurred. Seventy-two children were randomised and included for analysis (n = 37 Intervention; n = 35 Control). No significant differences in pain scores were found between children who received Burnaid® and those who received plasticised polyvinylchloride film. Mann-Whitney U tests revealed no significant group differences in nursing or caregiver observational pain scores (p = 0.44 and p = 0.96, respectively). Child self-report pain scores showed no significant group differences for pre- and post- acute dressing application (p = 0.95). Moreover, no significant differences in heart rate (p = 0.41), temperature, (p = 0.31) or re-epithelialisation rates (p = 0.26) were found between the two groups. A clear benefit of Burnaid® hydrogel dressing as an analgesic adjunct to first aid was not identified in this analysis.


Fein, M, Quinn, J, Watt, K, Nichols, T, Kimble, R & Cuttle, L 2014, ‘Prehospital paediatric burn care: New priorities in paramedic reporting’, Emergency Medicine Australasia, vol. 26, no. 6, pp. 609-615.


Maleea Holbert is a PhD Candidate at the Centre for Children’s Burns and Trauma Research, at The University of Queensland, Australia. Her current research focuses on reducing acute pain in children that have sustained a thermal burn injury. More specifically, she is examining the effectiveness of a hydrogel burn dressing as an analgesic adjunct to first aid for the treatment of acute paediatric burn injuries, in comparison to the current recommended acute wound covering (plasticised polyvinylchloride film).

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