What is a first-degree burn?

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 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.

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.

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.

Continue Learning about Burns

How does the body react to a severe burn injury?
Challenge AmericaChallenge America
Once the body is severely burned, there is inflammation and blistering caused by fluid loss from dam...
More Answers
What is a second-degree burn?
Diana MeeksDiana Meeks
With a second-degree burn, the first layer of skin (the epidermis) and the second layer of skin (the...
More Answers
What should I say to a burn survivor about his injuries?
Medical City PlanoMedical City Plano
Be supportive in all capacities. Psychological support is very important. Let them know that you are...
More Answers
How do I care for someone with burn pain?
Honor Society of Nursing (STTI)Honor Society of Nursing (STTI)
Minor burn pain may be able to be treated immediately with cool water and an over-the-counter pain r...
More Answers

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.