A first-degree burn is the least serious type of burn. It affects only the outer layer of skin, and most often occurs from sunburn or being scalded by hot water or steam. First-degree burns may cause some pain and redness, but they usually heal within a week without any treatment. If your child has a first-degree burn, be sure to apply cool compresses to the area to help relieve any discomfort. You can also give them over-the-counter pain medication if needed.
What is a first-degree burn?
A first-degree burn is a burn that only affects the outer layer of skin, also known as the epidermis. This type of burn is typically mild and can often be treated at home. Symptoms of a first-degree burn include redness, pain, and swelling. The skin may also feel warm to the touch.
Causes of a first-degree burn
There are many possible causes of a first-degree burn, but the most common is exposure to the sun. Other causes can include contact with hot surfaces or fluids, such as boiling water or oil. Additionally, certain chemicals can also cause first-degree burns.
There are many potential causes of first-degree burns. Some common causes include:
• Sunburn: overexposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun can damage the skin and lead to a first-degree burn.
• Heat: contact with hot objects or liquids can cause a first-degree burn. This type of burn is also called a scald.
• Chemical: certain chemicals, such as acids or alkalis, can damage the skin and lead to a first-degree burn.
Symptoms of a first-degree burn
The symptoms of a first-degree burn depend on the depth of the burn. A first-degree burn only affects the outer layer of skin, called the epidermis. The symptoms of a first-degree burn may include:
- Redness of the skin
Treatment for a first-degree burn
The treatment for a first-degree burn depends on the depth and extent of the burn. For most first-degree burns, home care is all that is necessary. This may include cooling the area with cold water and applying a sterile bandage. More severe burns may require medical treatment.
For a first-degree burn that covers a large area, is on the face, hands, feet, or genitals, or if the person is very young or very old, seek medical attention. Also, seek medical care if the burn is causing severe pain or swelling.
Treatment for a first-degree burn includes:
- Applying cool water to the affected area for at least 10 minutes
- Applying a sterile bandage or wrap
- Taking over-the-counter pain medication, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen, if needed
- Avoiding any further injury to the area while it heals
- If the burn is larger than 3 inches (7.6 Centimetres) in diameter, or if it's on the face, hands, feet, groin, buttocks, or over a major joint, it's best to seek medical attention.
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Prevention of a first-degree burn
A first-degree burn is the most minor type of burn. It only affects the first layer of skin, known as the epidermis. The skin will appear red and painful, but not blistered. A first-degree burn should heal within a week without causing any scarring.
There are several ways to prevent a first-degree burn:
- Avoid exposure to heat sources such as fire, hot liquids, or chemicals.
- Wearing protective clothing when working with heat or chemicals.
- Use sunscreen when outdoors to protect the skin from the sun's ultraviolet rays.
- Keep the skin hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids and using moisturizers.
Complications of a first-degree burn
A first-degree burn is a superficial burn that only affects the top layer of skin (the epidermis). These burns are usually not very painful and heal within a week or two. However, some potential complications can occur with a first-degree burn, including:
- Infection: The burned area can become infected if it comes into contact with bacteria. This is more likely to happen if the burn is large or if it’s on the face, hands, or feet. Symptoms of an infection include redness, swelling, and pus.
- Scarring: Some first-degree burns may result in scarring. This is more likely to happen if the burn is large or on visible areas of the body.
- Hypersensitivity: Some people may develop hypersensitivity to certain substances (such as soap or detergent) after suffering a first-degree burn. This can cause itching, redness, and swelling when the affected area comes into contact with the substance.
If you experience any of these complications, it’s important to see a doctor so that they can treat the problem.