CHOC Children's

First-Degree Burns

What is a first-degree burn?

First-degree burns affect only the epidermis, or outer layer of skin. The burn site is red, painful, dry, and with no blisters. Mild sunburn is an example. Long-term tissue damage is rare and usually consists of an increase or decrease in the skin color.

Anatomy of the skin
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What causes a first-degree burn?

In most cases, first-degree burns are caused by the following:

  • mild sunburn
  • flash burn - a sudden, brief burst of heat

What are the symptoms of a first-degree burn?

The following are the most common signs and symptoms of a first-degree burn. However, each child may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:

  • redness
  • dry skin
  • skin that is painful to touch
  • pain usually lasts 48 to 72 hours and then subsides
  • peeling skin

The symptoms of a first-degree burn may resemble other conditions or medical problems. Consult your child's physician for a diagnosis.

Treatment for first-degree burns:

Specific treatment for a first-degree burn will be determined by your child's physician, based on the following:

  • your child's age, overall health, and medical history
  • extent of the burn
  • location of the burn
  • cause of the burn
  • your child's tolerance for specific medications, procedures, or therapies
  • your opinion or preference

First-degree burns usually heal on their own within a week. Treatment may depend on the severity of the burn and may include the following:

  • cold compresses
  • lotion or ointments
  • aspirin

First-degree burns are usually not bandaged. Consult your child's physician for additional treatment for first-degree burns.

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Online Resources of Burns

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It is important to remember the health information found on this website is for reference only not intended to replace the advice and guidance of your healthcare provider. Always seek the advice of your physician with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your physician or 911 immediately.

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