A burn is damage to your body's tissues caused by heat, chemicals, electricity, sunlight or radiation. Scalds from hot liquids and steam, building fires and flammable liquids and gases are the most common causes of burns. Another kind is an inhalation injury, caused by breathing smoke.

There are three types of burns:

  • First-degree burns damage only the outer layer of skin 
  • Second-degree burns damage the outer layer and the layer underneath 
  • Third-degree burns damage or destroy the deepest layer of skin and tissues underneath

Burns can cause swelling, blistering, scarring and, in serious cases, shock and even death. They also can lead to infections because they damage your skin's protective barrier. Antibiotic creams can prevent or treat infections. After a third-degree burn, you need skin or synthetic grafts to cover exposed tissue and encourage new skin to grow. First- and second-degree burns usually heal without grafts. All burns need to be evaluated by a specialist trained in the treatment of burns to provide patients with the best possible outcome.

The Ohio State Comprehensive Burn Center is the only adult burn center in central Ohio verified by the American College of Surgeons and the American Burn Association.

Source: National Institutes of Health: National Institute of General Medical Sciences