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First Degree Burns (Part I)

A first degree burn is caused due to injury to the epidermis which is the outer first layer of the skin; it involves minimal tissue damage and is the least serious type of burn.

  1. Spending too much time in the sun (sun burn part I, II).
  2. A brief contact with a dry, moist heat or chemicals.
  3. Friction like rubbing the skin (against a rug).

Hot water, hot beverages and cigarettes are the most common sources of heat that cause first degree burns; it is called a scald when it is caused by hot water of hot steam.


  1. Redness.
  2. Swelling.
  3. Pain and sensitivity to touch, pain usually lasts 48 – 72 hours and then subsides.
  4. Peeling of the skin
  5. They don’t usually blister or leave scar.
  6. You must watch for signs of infection, such as increased pain, redness, fever, swelling or oozing. If infection develops, seek medical help.


First degree burns are minor burns and can be treated at home, the treatment is as follows:

  1. Remove any clothing or jewelry from the burned region.
  2. Hold the burned skin under cool running water for 5 – 10 minutes. Cold compresses can also be used.
  3. You can soothe the area with aloe-vera cream or burn ointment
  4. Place clean and dry sterile gauze around the burned area; wrap the gauze loosely to avoid putting pressure on burned skin.
  5. Use Tylenol, ibuprofen or aspirin to relieve pain.
  6. Call your doctor.

Things not to do: don’t use ice to cool the burn as it can cause further damage the burned skin, don’t use bandages that are adhesive as it might adhere to the burned skin, don’t apply oils or butter to the burned area as it interferes with healing and can make the burn worse, never give aspirin to children under the age of 18 because of the risk of Reye’s syndrome which is a serious illness affecting mostly the liver and the brain. Ask your doctor about children’s pain relievers.
Minor burns usually heal on their own within a week. They may heal with pigment changes.
For treatment of chemical burns, see chemical burns part I, II.

This information is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice; it should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. Call 911 for all medical emergencies.

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