Minor Burns and Sunburns in Kids

Minor burns and sunburns in kids can be extremely painful and alarming. KidsStreet Urgent Care is here to inform you about the types, causes, symptoms, treatments, and prevention methods for sunburns and minor burns in children.

What Are The Types Of Burns? 

There are four main types of burns: first-degree, second-degree, third-degree, and fourth-degree. As the degree gets higher, the burn is considered more damaging to the skin. 

First-Degree Burns

A first-degree burn- also known as a superficial burn- is the least severe of all the types of burns as it only affects the outer layer of skin. These burns heal within three days to one week and lack blisters. The symptoms consist of: 

  • Redness
  • Dryness
  • Minor swelling
  • Pain

Superficial burns may not require any medical intervention; however, it may be best to see a provider to ensure there is no further damage. 

Second-Degree Burns

Partial-thickness (second-degree) burns are more severe than first-degree but are not life-threatening. This type of burn affects the top layer and part of the second layer. Symptoms of a second-degree burn include:

  • Blisters
  • Swelling
  • Cherry-red color of open blisters

These burns take longer to heal, are more painful than first-degree, and require some sort of medical care. 

Third-Degree and Fourth-Degree Burns

Third-degree and fourth-degree burns are the most severe of all burns, often referred to as full-thickness burns. Burns of this nature affect all layers of the skin and their nerve endings, causing significant damage. Further, underlying tissue can also be affected. Signs of a full-thickness burn include: 

  • Leathery, brown, or waxy-looking skin
  • No initial pain as the nerve endings have been damaged

Full-thickness burns may require extensive treatment, such as skin grafts, to heal fully. 

Causes Of Burns

There are several types of burns that your child can suffer from. 

Sunburns And Radiation Burns

One of the most common burns that children will suffer from is radiation burns, otherwise known as sunburns. A child can get sunburnt with only fifteen minutes of sun exposure, as UV rays are particularly harmful to the skin. The signs of sunburn in kids may not show up until several hours after they are removed from exposure, and these symptoms can be very uncomfortable for your child. Symptoms of mildly sunburned skin include: 

  • Redness
  • Itchiness
  • Pain

In severe cases, children may also experience: 

  • Blistering
  • Swelling
  • Tingling
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Headache 

At KidsStreet Urgent Care, we offer treatment for sunburn in our urgent care services for kids

Thermal Burns 

Another common burn type is thermal burns. These burns occur when the skin comes into contact with steam, hot liquids, or touches something hot like a stovetop. This contact raises the temperature of the skin and the underlying tissue. After a thermal burn, your child’s skin may: 

  • Blister
  • Swell
  • Redden or lose color altogether
  • Peel

These burns are particularly dangerous in sensitive areas like the face or groin, and if they cover large areas. 

Electrical Burns

Although less common, electrical burns happen to kids all the time. These burns are typically caused by chewing cords, playing with wires, or inserting objects into electrical outlets. An electrical burn poses a different kind of danger than other types, as it can have internal effects on your organs. The symptoms of an electrical burn include: 

  • Burned skin
  • Headache
  • Confusion
  • Numbness
  • Tingling
  • Muscle contractions
  • Racing heart

If your child has gotten an electrical burn, take them to the emergency department. 

Chemical Burns 

Chemical burns occur when a child’s skin is exposed to hard chemicals such as those in batteries, bleach, and other cleaners. Symptoms of chemical burns include:

  • Pain or numbness of the affected area
  • Redness
  • Blisters
  • Irritation 

These burns do not only affect the skin, as they can have severe consequences on the inside of the body if ingested. If you believe your child has swallowed a battery or ingested a dangerous chemical, call poison control immediately. 

    Treating Minor Burns and Sunburn in Kids 

    There are several treatment options for burns in kids depending on the type of burn that was sustained. 

    Treating Sunburns

    Due to the damaging nature of UVB rays, sunburns are easy to get. Luckily, there are a few different treatment options to help your little one feel better quickly. Best practices for treating sunburns in kids include: 

    • Taking over-the-counter medications (children’s Motrin, Tylenol, etc.). 
    • Have them take a cool bath, not cold, as it could further damage the skin. 
    • Make sure your child is well-hydrated for 2-3 days after the burn. 
    • Apply topical creams such as aloe vera and moisturizer. 
    • Cover the burned area when going outside until fully healed.

    Mild sunburns should take around one to three days to heal. If they are not healing after a few days, call your doctor to discuss further treatment methods. 

    Treating Thermal Burns

    For mild thermal burns, there are a few options that will alleviate pain and treat the burned area. These options include: 

    • Cool the burn with cold water or a cold compress until it comes back to normal temperature. 
    • Protect the burn by wrapping it in gauze until it is healed. 
    • If there is a blister, do not break the surface. 
    • Treat the area with topical creams.
    • Take over-the-counter medications regularly to help with the pain. 

    If your child has experienced a severe thermal burn, visit the emergency room immediately. 

    Treating Other Burns In Kids

    Electrical burns and chemical burns can be extremely serious, and it is best that you seek medical treatment if you believe your child has sustained these kinds of burns. Upon getting the burn, best practices consist of: 

    • Taking off any contaminated clothing and washing the area with cool water. 
    • Wrap the area with sterile gauze to reduce the risk of infection. 

    Preventing Burns In Children

    Burns are mostly preventable if the correct steps are taken. 

    Preventing Sunburn

    There is a multitude of ways to prevent sunburn in kids. To avoid your child getting sunburnt, try these methods: 

        • Applying sunscreen thirty minutes before being exposed to sun rays, and reapplying every thirty to forty-five minutes. 
        • Wearing protective clothing such as sun shirts, sun hats, etc. 
        • Take breaks from sun exposure frequently. 

    Preventing Other Burns In Children 

    Generally, the best way to keep children safe from getting burned is to keep them away from any hot surfaces, dangerous chemicals, and electrical outlets. Ensure your child is supervised at all times, and that their play areas are free from any burn hazards. 

    Why Choose KidsStreet urgent Care?

    Turn to KidsStreet Urgent Care

    Has your child sustained a minor burn or sunburn? KidsStreet Urgent Care would love to help them heal and feel better, fast!

    To visit a clinic, register online. You can wait from your home or vehicle until we’re ready for you. 


    Walk-in patients are always welcome, but please be aware that registering online reduces in-clinic wait times. Walk-ins are added to the same queue as those who register online.