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First-Degree Burns (Superficial)

What is a superficial first-degree burn?

Superficial 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 superficial first-degree burn?

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

  • Mild sunburn

  • Flash burn -- a sudden, brief burst of heat

What are the symptoms of a superficial first-degree burn?

The following are the most common signs and symptoms of a superficial 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 doctor for a diagnosis.

Treatment for superficial first-degree burns

Specific treatment for a superficial first-degree burn will be determined by your child's doctor, 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

Superficial 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

  • Acetaminophen or ibuprofen 

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

Reviewed Date: 05-23-2013

Quemaduras de Primer Grado

Disclaimer: This information is not intended to substitute or replace the professional medical advice you receive from your child's physician. The content provided on this page is for informational purposes only, and was not designed to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease. Please consult your child's physician with any questions or concerns you may have regarding a medical condition.