First-Degree Burn  

A burn occurs when skin is exposed to too much heat, sun, or harsh chemicals. A first-degree burn (superficial burn) causes mainly redness. It heals in a few days.

Home care

Follow these guidelines when caring for yourself at home:

  • Use pain medicine as directed. You may use over-the-counter medicine to control pain if no pain medicine was prescribed. If you have chronic liver or kidney disease, talk with your healthcare provider before using acetaminophen or ibuprofen. Also talk with your provider if you've had a stomach ulcer or GI (gastrointestinal) bleeding.

  • On the first day, you may put a cool compress on the burn to relieve pain. You can use a small towel soaked in cool water as a cool compress. Don't use ice or ice water.

  • Moisturizers with aloe vera can help soothe the burn.

  • Don't pick or scratch at the affected areas. Use over-the-counter medicines such as diphenhydramine for itching. This medicine is taken by mouth.

  • Since you don't have an open wound, you don't need to use antibiotic cream or ointment. Sometimes an infection may occur even with correct treatment. Be sure to check the burn daily for the signs of infection listed below.

  • Wear a hat, sunscreen, and long sleeves while in the sun.

  • Wear loose-fitting clothing until the burn heals.

Follow-up care

Follow up with your healthcare provider, or as advised. Most first-degree burns heal well without complications.

When to seek medical advice

Call your healthcare provider right away if any of these signs of infection occur:

  • Fever of 100.4°F (38°C) or higher, or as directed by your healthcare provider

  • Pain gets worse

  • Redness or swelling gets worse

  • Pus comes from the burn

  • Red streaks in your skin come from the burn

  • Wound doesn't seem to be healing

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