First-Degree Burn in Children
What is a first-degree burn?
A burn is damage to tissues of the body caused by contact with things such as heat, radiation, or chemicals. A first-degree burn affects only the outer layer of skin (epidermis).
What causes a first-degree burn in a child?
The causes of a first-degree burn can include:
Very hot water
Hot object, like a pot or pan
What are the symptoms of a first-degree burn in a child?
Symptoms can occur a bit differently in each child. Symptoms can include skin that is:
Painful for 48 to 72 hours and then feels better
The symptoms of a first-degree burn can be like other health conditions. Make sure your child sees his or her healthcare provider for a diagnosis.
How is a first-degree burn diagnosed in a child?
The healthcare provider will ask about your child’s symptoms and health history. He or she will give your child a physical exam. The diagnosis of a first-degree burn is based on the signs and symptoms, and recent exposure to something that can cause a burn. This may be the sun, something hot, or a chemical.
How is a first-degree burn treated in a child?
Treatment will depend on your child’s symptoms, age, and general health. It will also depend on how severe the condition is.
A first-degree burn usually heals on its own within a week. Treatment may include:
A wet cloth soaked with cold water (cold compress) held to the skin, to ease pain
Antibacterial cream, to help prevent infection
Other creams, to lessen pain and swelling
Over-the-counter medicine such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen for pain and swelling
Any other treatment advised by your child’s healthcare provider
First-degree burns are usually not bandaged.
What are possible complications of a first-degree burn in a child?
Long-term tissue damage is rare and may be an increase or decrease in the skin color. In some cases, the area may become infected.
What can I do to prevent a first-degree burn in my child?
The following are some of ways to prevent burns in children:
Keep your child out of the sun. Use sunscreen when your child is old enough, usually at 6 months.
Make sure hot water is set below 120° F (48.8° C).
Put covers on electrical outlets.
Make sure pot and pan handles are turned toward the back of the stove.
Be careful with hot drinks.
Keep hot appliances in safe places. This includes toasters, irons, and hair-styling tools.
Teach children never to play with matches and lighters and keep these items out of reach of children.
When should I call my child's healthcare provider?
Call your child's healthcare provider if:
Your child has a fever
There is fluid leaking from the burn area
There is increased swelling or redness of the burn area
Key points about a first-degree burn in children
First-degree burns affect only the outer layer of the skin.
They may be caused by the sun, hot water, or hot objects.
They are treated by applying cold, like running water or a cold cloth, at first. Creams or lotions may be applied.
Tips to help you get the most from a visit to your child’s healthcare provider:
Know the reason for the visit and what you want to happen.
Before your visit, write down questions you want answered.
At the visit, write down the name of a new diagnosis, and any new medicines, treatments, or tests. Also write down any new instructions your provider gives you for your child.
Know why a new medicine or treatment is prescribed and how it will help your child. Also know what the side effects are.
Ask if your child’s condition can be treated in other ways.
Know why a test or procedure is recommended and what the results could mean.
Know what to expect if your child does not take the medicine or have the test or procedure.
If your child has a follow-up appointment, write down the date, time, and purpose for that visit.
Know how you can contact your child’s provider after office hours. This is important if your child becomes ill and you have questions or need advice.
Online Medical Reviewer: Amy Finke RN BSNLiora C Adler MDRaymond Kent Turley BSN MSN RN
Date Last Reviewed: 2/1/2019
© 2000-2019 The StayWell Company, LLC. 800 Township Line Road, Yardley, PA 19067. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.
- After a Burn: When to Call Your Child's Healthcare Provider
- Burns Overview
- Burns: Symptom Management
- Classification and Treatment of Burns
- Classification of Burns
- Coping Emotionally After a Burn
- Emergency Treatment of a Burn Injury
- Fire Safety and Burns
- Fire Safety and Burns Overview
- Fire Safety and Burns—Identifying High-Risk Situations
- Burns Caused by Heat
- Home Page - Burns
- Home Wound Care
- If Your Child Has Trouble Adjusting After a Burn Injury
- Nutrition and Burns
- Preventing Burn Injuries
- Preventing Scars and Contractures
- Returning Home After a Burn Injury
- Second-Degree Burn
- Thermal Injuries
- Third-Degree Burn in Children
- Topic Index - Burns
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