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Burn - First Degree

First Aid - Burn - Chemical

First Aid - Burn - Thermal


  • A burn is a heat (thermal), chemical or electrical injury to the skin

Severity of Burns:

  • 1st degree - Reddened skin without blisters

  • 2nd degree - Reddened skin with blisters (Heals from the bottom up, not from the edges. Takes 2 to 3 weeks.) Small closed blisters contain protective chemicals, serve as a dressing and reduce pain.

  • 3rd degree - Deep burns with white or charred skin. Skin sensation is absent. Usually needs a skin graft to prevent bad scarring if it is larger than a quarter (1 inch) in size. (Heals from the edges)

If not, see these topics


First Aid:

First Aid Advice For Burns From Heat

  • Immediately (don't take time to remove clothing) put the burned part in cold tap water or pour cold water over it for 10 minutes.

  • For burns on the face, apply a cold wet washcloth. (Reason: lessen the depth of the burn and relieve pain).

First Aid Advice For Burns From Chemicals

  • Remove any contaminated clothing.

  • Flush the chemical off the skin with warm water for 10 minutes. For large areas, use a shower.


When to Call Your Doctor

call 911

Call 911 Now (your child may need an ambulance) If

  • For all thermal or chemical burns, see FIRST AID

  • Large 2nd or 3rd degree burn

  • Difficulty breathing with burn to the face

  • Difficult to awaken or acting confused

call now

Call Your Doctor Now (night or day) If

  • For all new thermal or chemical burns, see FIRST AID

  • You think your child has a serious burn

  • Blister is present (EXCEPTION: small closed blister less than ½ inch size)

  • Eye or eyelid burn

  • Burn completely circles an arm or leg

  • Center of the burn is white or charred

  • Electrical current burn

  • Explosion or gun powder caused the burn

  • Acid or alkali burn

  • Chemical burn that causes a blister

  • House fire burn

  • Severe pain persists over 2 hours after pain medicine

  • You think your child needs to be seen urgently

  • Burn looks infected

call within 24 hours

Call Your Doctor Within 24 Hours (between 9 am and 4 pm) If

  • You think your child needs to be seen, but not urgently

call within 24 hours

Call Your Doctor During Weekday Office Hours If

  • You have other questions or concerns

  • Burn isn’t healed after 10 days

home care

Parent Care at Home If

  • Minor heat or chemical burn and you don't think your child needs to be seen



  1. Pain Medicine: For pain, apply cold compresses and give acetaminophen (e.g., Tylenol) or ibuprofen for a few days.

  2. Cleansing: Wash the area gently with warm water. Avoid soap unless the burn is dirty. (Reason: Soaps can slow healing).

  3. Closed Blisters: Don't open any small closed blisters - the outer skin protects the burn from infection.

  4. Antibiotic Ointment:

    • For any broken blisters, apply an antibiotic ointment such as Polysporin (no prescription needed).

    • Then cover it with a Band-Aid. Change the dressing every other day.

    • Use warm water and 1 or 2 gentle wipes with a wet washcloth to remove any surface debris.

  5. Expected Course: It will probably hurt for 2 days and peel like a sunburn in about a week. Fortunately, first- and second-degree burns don't leave scars.

  6. Call Your Doctor If:

    • Severe pain persists over 2 hours after pain medicine given

    • Burn starts to look infected (pus, red streaks, increased tenderness)

    • Burn isn't healed after 10 days

    • Your child becomes worse

And remember, contact your doctor if your child develops any of the "Call Your Doctor" symptoms.

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