Chemical Burns

If a chemical burns the skin, follow these steps:

  1. Remove the cause of the burn by flushing the chemicals off the skin surface with cool, running water for 20 minutes or more. If the burning chemical is a powder-like substance, such as lime, brush it off the skin before flushing.

  2. Remove clothing or jewelry that has been contaminated by the chemical.

  3. Apply a cool, wet cloth or towel to relieve pain.

  4. Wrap the burned area loosely with a dry, sterile dressing or a clean cloth.

  5. Rewash the burned area for several more minutes if the person experiences increased burning after the initial washing.

Minor chemical burns usually heal without further treatment.

Seek emergency medical assistance if:

  • The victim has signs of shock, such as fainting, pale complexion or breathing in a notably shallow manner.

  • The chemical burn penetrated through the first layer of skin, and the resulting second-degree burn covers an area more than 3 inches (7.5 centimeters) in diameter.

  • The chemical burn occurred on the eye, hands, feet, face, groin or buttocks, or over a major joint.

  • The victim has pain that cannot be controlled with over-the-counter pain relievers such as acetaminophen (Tylenol, others) or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, others).

If you're unsure whether a substance is toxic, call the poison control center at 117. If you seek emergency assistance, bring the chemical container or a complete description of the substance with you for identification.

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