First-degree burns, also called superficial burns, are the mildest types of burn injuries. They usually respond well to basic treatments at home. If the burn does not heal properly or if it covers a large area of the body, you might need to see a doctor. 

What are the symptoms of a first-degree burn?

First-degree burns affect only the top layer of skin, the epidermis. They are much less severe than second-, third-, and fourth-degree burns. But this does not mean they are not painful. When you suffer a first-degree burn, you can expect symptoms such as the following:

  • Pain and burning
  • Redness
  • Slight swelling
  • Skin that is painful to the touch for roughly 24 to 72 hours
  • Dry skin
  • Skin that begins to peel after a day or two

What are the primary causes of first-degree burns?

Any number of sources might cause burns, from electrical sources to flames. The Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin reports that the two most common ways people sustain mild burns are 1) from the sun, and 2) from a sudden burst of heat, i.e., a flash burn.

Scalds are another common way people sustain first-degree burns, particularly young children under the age of four. Hot liquid and steam during cooking cause burns, as does hot bath or shower water.

What is the recommended treatment for first-degree burns?

You can treat most first-degree burns at home with the following remedies:

  • Use a compress such as a cool washcloth on the burn for five to 15 minutes to relieve pain and swelling.
  • Apply a product with Aloe vera to relieve pain.
  • Use an over-the-counter NSAID or ibuprofen if needed.

There is also a couple of things that you do not want to do. Bandaging the burn is not necessary when it is a first-degree burn; you can just let it air out. Also, avoid making your compress too cold, which could aggravate the burn. Just use a cloth rinsed with mildly cool water. Lastly, do not apply any type of oil or butter to the burn, both of which can impede healing.

When should I call the doctor?

Most first-degree burns heal within a couple of days, although some can take up to three weeks to fully heal. The majority of mild burns are nothing to worry about, but MedlinePlus recommends you see a doctor if:

  • The burn gets worse.
  • A fire, chemical, or an electrical wire caused it.
  • It is larger than two inches.

For the most part, first-degree burns heal without a trace; scarring is usually only an issue when the deeper layers of skin have been damaged. However, if you are concerned, you can talk to your doctor about ways to promote healing and prevent scarring.

What else do I need to know about my first-degree burn?

Most mild burns do not create significant medical bills or prevent you from going to work. You might visit your doctor once, follow her care instructions, and move on with your life.

But if the burn worsens, becomes infected, or is worse than you initially thought, you might face some medical bills or missed time at work.

While a lot of burns are the result of the victim’s own carelessness, others are the result of something that was out of the victim’s control. If your burn was not your fault, such as if a cleaner did not have a warning about the product’s corrosiveness, you might be able to pursue compensation for your medical bills and other losses. Our lawyer referral specialists can connect you with a lawyer who can answer your questions and help you pursue compensation. Call us today at 844-549-8774.