Superficial burns are classified as a first-degree burn, when the injury affects the epidermis, or the top layer of skin. Medical care is usually not required for a first-degree burn. While superficial burns tend to be the mildest form of skin injury, they can be painful, large, and require treatment from a doctor.
Mild sunburns, intense friction burns, electrical burns, flash burns and non-blistering light burning on the skin are examples of first-degree burn injuries. In most incidences, a first-degree burn does not cause long-term tissue damage. However, skin coloring can increase or decrease at the burn site.
Symptoms and Signs of 1st Degree Burns
Common symptoms and signs of a first-degree burn include:
- Redness to the affected area
- Dry and/or peeling skin
- Painful skin
- Moderate to intense pain subsiding after 2 to 3 days
Individuals of all ages can be burned by minimal to long-term exposure to the sun, even when using sunscreen. Sunrays produce intense UV (ultraviolet) rays that penetrate through the outer layers of the skin, causing reddening and blistering along with peeling as the affected area heals. Wearing SPF (sun protection factor) 30 or greater can minimize the devastating effects of sun exposure.
Many first-degree burns are the result of scalds, especially in children four years and younger. Hot liquids, especially water, spilled from the stove top, or steam admitting from a pot or container can cause scalding burns to the body, face and hands. In addition, children, the elderly and disabled individuals are often the victims of scalding burns when showering or bathing. Because of that, it is essential to ensure that the temperature of the hot water tank is set no higher than 120 degrees Fahrenheit.
Most hot water tank manufacturers allow a maximum setting of 140 degrees Fahrenheit. However, a simple adjustment to lower the temperature is an easy solution for avoiding serious burns when lowering individuals into bathwater, or when showering.
Electrical extension cords, sockets, and appliances can create an electrical burn to an unsuspecting child, with a potentially increasing risk of serious injury. Children sticking an object or finger into a socket opening, biting on an electrical cord, or playing with appliances can experience burns or electrocution from electricity exposure. Using childproof covers, unplugging electrical extension cords when not in use, and moving appliances out of reach can minimize the potential of electrical burns.
First Degree Burn Treatment Options
A first-degree burn is often a minor injury that tends to heal on its own in just a few days. However, excessive swelling and intense pain might require treatment using over-the-counter medications. Medical care by a licensed professional might be necessary if the location of the burn is near the eyes, genitals, fingertips, or other delicate area on the body.
Often times, burns caused by electricity tend to develop underneath the top layers of the skin. Because of that, it is often advisable to seek medical care as a precautionary measure after an electrical burning accident.
Most medical doctors will evaluate the intensity of a burn by a variety of factors. These factors include how deep the burn penetrated into the skin layers, swelling, the burn size/location, and if there are any indicators of infection, when pus oozes from the area. Treatments for healing a first-degree burn are often based on the severity of the injury. Treatments include:
- Applying cold compresses to the affected area within the first 15 to 20 minutes after the accident
- Using ointments and lotions as directed on the label
- Taking Ibuprofen or NSAIDs (non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs) for the pain
Treating the burn using extremely cold compresses or ice should be avoided because they tend to aggravate the injury. In addition, applying butter or oil to the burn should also be avoided because they tend to hold heat in, instead of allowing the area to cool. However, aloe vera products usually provide significant pain relief.
Hiring a First Degree Burn Accident Attorney
When a burn is caused by the negligent actions of another, it is often wise to discuss the accident with a first degree burn accident attorney. The attorney can provide legal counsel on the best way to handle a claim or lawsuit against the responsible parties. Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers at (888) 424-5757 represents burn victims in their efforts to seek financial recompense for their pain, injuries, damages and suffering.