A to Z: Burn, First-Degree

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A to Z: Burn, First-Degree

A first-degree burn is a minor burn that only affects the top layer of skin, or epidermis. It is the mildest type of burn.

More to Know

Most first-degree burns are caused by sun exposure (sunburn) or brief contact with flames or hot objects and liquids — such as scalds from steaming water, knocked over coffee cups, hot foods, and heated cooking fluids.

Symptoms of first-degree burns include redness, pain, and minor swelling. The skin is dry without blisters.

First-degree burns can be treated at home and will usually heal in about 3 to 6 days. The superficial skin layer over the burn may peel off in 1 or 2 days. If a burn doesn't heal within a couple of weeks or appears to be getting worse or infected, call your doctor. Special attention should be given to burns on the face, hands, feet, and groin as these can be more serious.

Keep in Mind

First-degree burns are uncomfortable but are easy to treat and usually have no lasting impact. Taking safety precautions at home can help prevent many first-degree burns.

All A to Z dictionary entries are regularly reviewed by KidsHealth medical experts.



Related Resources

OrganizationNational Safety Council The National Safety Council offers information on first aid, CPR, environmental health, and safety.
OrganizationU.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) This federal agency collects information about consumer goods and issues recalls on unsafe or dangerous products.
OrganizationAmerican Red Cross The American Red Cross helps prepare communities for emergencies and works to keep people safe every day. The website has information on first aid, safety, and more.
Web SiteUnited States Fire Administration for Kids This U.S. government site offers fire safety information, games, and the opportunity for kids to become junior fire marshals.
OrganizationNational Fire Prevention Association This nonprofit organization provides fire safety information and education.
Web SiteThe Skin Cancer Foundation The Skin Cancer Foundation educates people about skin cancer and ways to prevent it.


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First Aid: Burns Scald burns from hot water and other liquids are the most common type of burn young kids get. Here's what to do if your child is burned.
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Burns Burns, especially scalds from hot water and liquids, are some of the most common childhood accidents. Minor burns often can be safely treated at home, but more serious burns require medical care.
Household Safety: Preventing Burns, Shocks, and Fires Burns are a potential hazard in every home. In fact, burns - especially scalds from hot water and liquids - are some of the most common childhood accidents. Here's how to protect kids from burns.
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First Aid: Sunburn Mild sunburn that causes redness or irritation can be treated at home, but severe sunburn requires medical attention.




Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.

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