A burn is a type of injury to flesh caused by heat, electricity, chemicals, light, radiation or friction. Most burns affect only the skin (epidermal tissue and dermis). Rarely, deeper tissues, such as muscle, bone, and blood vessels can also be injured. Burns may be treated with first aid, in an out-of-hospital setting, or may require more specialised treatment such as those available at specialised burn centers.
Managing burn injuries properly is important because they are common, painful and can result in disfiguring and disabling scarring, amputation of affected parts or death in severe cases. Complications such as shock, infection, multiple organ dysfunction syndrome, electrolyte imbalance and respiratory distress may occur. The treatment of burns may include the removal of dead tissue (debridement), applying dressings to the wound, fluid resuscitation, administering antibiotics and skin grafting.
While large burns can be fatal, modern treatments developed in the last 60 years have significantly improved the prognosis of such burns, especially in children and young adults. In the United States, approximately 4 out of every 100 people with injuries from burns will succumb to their injuries. The majority of these fatalities occur either at the scene or enroute to hospital.