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.
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.
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.
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