First-Degree Burns

First-degree burns are the least severe of all three burn degrees, but they can still cause a lot of pain and discomfort. A first-degree burn involves only the top layer of skin and usually does not cause any permanent damage. For instance, sunburn is one of the most common types of a first-degree burn, and while it is uncomfortable and often painful, it doesn’t cause permanent damage or changes in lifestyle. The CDC has compiled the signs and treatments for first degree burns, listed below.

Signs:

  • Red
  • Painful to touch
  • Skin will show mild swelling

Treatment:

  • Apply cool, wet compresses, or immerse in cool, fresh water. Continue until pain subsides.
  • Cover the burn with a sterile, non-adhesive bandage or clean cloth.
  • Do not apply ointments or butter to burn; these may cause infection.
  • Over-the-counter pain medications may be used to help relieve pain and reduce inflammation.
  • First degree burns usually heal without further treatment. However, if a first-degree burn covers a large area of the body or the victim is an infant or elderly, seek emergency medical attention.

Other Information

It has been found that airbags can sometimes be the cause of burns in the case of car accidents. The National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) posted the following:

Automobile air bags have gained acceptance as an effective measure to reduce the morbidity and mortality associated with motor vehicle accidents. As more cars have become equipped with them, new problems have been encountered that are directly attributable to the deployment of the bag itself. An increasing variety of associated injuries has been reported, including minor burns. We present two automobile drivers who were involved in front-impact crashes with air bag inflation. They sustained superficial and partial-thickness burns related to the deployment. The evaluation of these cases shows mechanisms involved in burn injuries caused by the air bag system. Most of the burns are chemical and usually attributed to sodium hydroxide in the aerosol created during deployment. Also direct thermal burns from high-temperature gases or indirect injuries due to the melting of clothing, as well as friction burns from physical contact are possible. However, the inherent risks of air bag-related burns are still outweighed by the benefits of preventing potentially life-threatening injuries.

Remember, just because the burn is minor, doesn’t mean that you don’t need medical attention. It is always a good idea to consult with a doctor if you have any questions or concerns about your burn injury.

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