What is a first-degree burn?

Dr. Stuart A. Linder, MD
Plastic Surgeon

First-degree burns are partial thickness burns that only involve the superficial epidermis. These burns normally do not require debridement and heal on their own. Pain management and oral antibiotics may be required for larger area burns.

Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiologist (Heart Specialist)

A first-degree burn is one that damages the outer layer of skin, known as the epidermis. A first-degree burn will produce reddened skin, pain and some swelling. Treatment includes reducing inflammation with cold water. Pain relievers may help, too. Talk to you doctor about the best way to treat a burn.

A first-degree burn is the mildest of burn injuries and is similar to what you would experience with sunburn. With the first-degree burn, only the surface layer or outer layer of the skin (epidermis) is burned. Symptoms of a first-degree burn include pink or red skin, some swelling, and the skin is painful to the touch. First-degree burns do not blister and after a few days, most of the pain ends. Around day 4 or 5, the burned skin peels off and new skin shows underneath. Any burn should be taken seriously, even one that seems mild like a first-degree burn.

A first-degree burn is like a sunburn. It is a superficial burn involving the epidermis—the outer layer of the skin—and can be expected to heal with minimal or no scarring.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.