Burns are a common injury and have many causes, some of the more common being sunburn, scalds from hot liquids, contact with flames or hot objects such as a toaster, iron, saucepan, lit cigarette or fireworks, as well as electrical and chemical burns.
When skin suffers a burn and only the top layer (epidermis) of the skin is affected, the injury is classified as a superficial burn, also known as a first-degree burn. This is one of the mildest forms of skin injuries.
The degree of damage from a burn depends on where it is on the body, how deep it is, and how much of the body’s surface area it covers.
The symptoms of superficial burns are usually minor and the injury is likely to heal after several days without scarring and usually without blisters. Indications of a burn include a tender red skin area, pain, and there may be a swelling. The affected area will often turn white when touched. With burns such as sunburn, the skin can start to peel after one or two days.
If the damage from a burn is not superficial – that is, it is deeper, damaging the dermis layer below the top layer of the skin, the wound may be a second-degree burn. In this case, or if a superficial burn covers a large area of the body, or if the burn area suffers strong pain or increased swelling, medical help may be needed. Superficial burns caused by electricity can be deeper than they appear, so it is important to seek medical treatment immediately after the accident occurs.