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Minor skin burns / Superficial burns: Treatment and relief


What is a minor burn?

Burns are traumatic injuries to the skin and underlying tissues that result from exposure to thermal (resulting from hot surface – hot water, oil, flames, chemical, radiation, cold injury and friction sources. Superficial burns involves the epidermis (outer layers of the skin).1

Minor burns tend be caused by flames, contact with hot surfaces such as with a hot iron or oven or from scalds with hot liquids. Sunburn is an example of a minor burn.

Minor burns will often heal within a few days with appropriate treatment. More severe burns may require hospitalisation and specialised treatment. If you are unsure about the severity of the burn, please consult a healthcare professional.

Keeping the wound moist can assist in rapid healing of minor burns. Moist wound healing allows the burn to stay bathed in its own fluid to assist with less painful healing and help the wound heal faster.

Minor burns treatment

  • Apply fast effective first-aid
  • Place under cool running water for at least 20 minutes immediately or within the first 3 hours after the burn occurred
  • Do not use ice or iced water
  • Remove clothing and jewellery – can continue to burn
  • Cut around clothing stuck to the burn
  • Do not break blisters
  • Do not apply butter, oils, creams, ointments or powders

Always seek medical advice if the burn is:

  • Painless
  • White
  • Larger than the size of an adult’s palm
  • Larger than the size of a 20c piece for children
  • On the face, hands, feet, genitals, major joints, around limbs, on the chest or perineum
  • Associated with inhalation injury
  • Electrical
  • Chemical
  • In a patient with a pre-existing illness
  • Associated with major trauma
  • In young children and the elderly.
  • In pregnant women
  • Non-accidental

Refer to a health care professional if the patient has underlying medical conditions.

Treatment options

High flex required



Normal skin



Fragile/sensitive skin



Visit ANZBA (Australian and New Zealand Burn Association) for further information.

1. WoundCare Manual 7th Edition 2017 , Keryln Carville , Silver Chain Foundation, pp 93-96.

Always read the label and follow the directions for use.