A Catastrophic Hairdryer Burn In A Child

Dr Rebecca Heah1, Dr Michelle Lodge1, Mr  Bernard Carney1, Dr  Jake  Willet1, Dr Nicholas Smith1, Ms Linda Quinn1

1Womens’ And Childrens’ Hospital, North Adelaide, Australia


Burns sustained from hot air directed onto skin from household hairdryers are a very rare cause of burn injury.

This is a case of a seven month old child who sustained a significant full thickness burn injury to the scalp and posterior neck requiring multiple operations and an extensive multidisciplinary team approach to ongoing management of their burn injury.

The circumstances of the accident and management to date of this child’s injury will be presented.  This child presented to the emergency department with significant burn injury caused by a hairdryer blowing hot air onto the child for an indeterminate period of time. First aid was initially provided by her parents followed by further first aid provided by paramedics prior to transfer to hospital.

The child was assessed in the emergency department according to EMSB principals. Initially the burn injury was debrided and dressed with paraffin. The total burn size estimated at approximately 10% of total body surface area. Majority of this burn was considered to be full thickness and reconstructive options will be discussed.The mechanism of injury was investigated by the Department of Child Protection (DCP) aided by SAPOL and Womens’ and Childrens’ Hospital Child Protection Services (CPS).


Dr Rebecca Heah is an unaccredited Plastic Surgery Registrar currently working at the Womens’ and Childrens’ Hospital in North Adelaide, South Australia.

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