Chemical Burn

Chemical burns are quite common at home. Some home cleaning products are potential to cause the burns. The superficial chemical burns, fortunately, are able to be treated at home without any professional medical care. Proper methods in treating these burns will be time-saving, effective, and beneficial in speed up the healing process. However, different chemical burns might require different treatment methods.

  1. After a chemical mass casualty incident, trauma with or without burns is expected to be common. Burn therapy adds significant logistical requirements and complexity to the medical response in a chemical mass casualty incident. Burns complicating physical injury and/or chemical injury decrease the likelihood of survival.
  2. Mar 04, 2021 Examples of chemicals that can burn skin are found in cleaning products, paint stripper, and pesticides. Chemicals may also be found in some workplaces, such as wet or dry cement or battery acid. Signs and symptoms may not develop for several days.

Chemical burnscan be the result of reduction, oxidation, corrosion, or desecration of body tissue with or without an associated thermal injury.20The severity of the burn depends on the type and concentration of the chemical, duration of contact, and mechanism of action. Chemical burns are injuries to the skin, eyes, mouth, or internal organs caused by contact with a corrosive substance. They may also be called caustic burns. Chemical burns can happen in the home.

Before applying any kinds of treatments for chemical burns, it is important to firstly stop the entire chemical reaction on the skin. To do this:

  • Remove any jewelries which can engage in chemical reaction. Clothing near the wound site will also need to be removed to prevent further chemical reaction.
  • Brush off dried chemicals to minimize the effect on the skin and maximize the treatment effect later.
  • Rinse the chemicals off with tap water to remove existing chemicals and debris left on the wound site.
  • Avoid washing off the burn with too-cold or too-hot water to prevent damaged skin tissues.

Read Also : List Of 15 Best Essential Oils For Burns

Calming off the burnt skin

After cleaning the burnt skin and stop the chemical reaction on the wound site, it is important to neutralize the affected area. This treatment is important to be done before any medication is applied onto the burnt skin. To calm off the burnt skin, some steps are:

  • Try to wash the burn several more times if the sensation of burning increases.
  • Apply damp towel onto the affected skin and leave it for several minutes until the pain and burning sensation subside. This is also important to prevent any left harmful irritants, which can cause irritation and infection to the wound site.

Treating Pain

As soon as the burning sensation subsides, you are able to treat the pain and tingling sensation resulted by chemical burns. Treat this kind of wound very gently in order to prevent it from causing more severe wound. Chemical burn treatments depend on what chemicals causing the damage. Proper identification of the inducing chemicals will enable you to provide proper treatments to promote faster healing.

  • Most chemical burns caused by batteries, drain cleaner, or bleach commonly heal on its own after some days, even without any medications. However, if these chemicals are swallowed instead only cause superficial burns, it is important to get medical assistance immediately to prevent any severe effects on the body and inner organs.
  • Chemical burns to the mouth, eyes, and other body parts with mucous membranes should not be treated at home. Call the doctor immediately to get a professional help, as the caused pain can be excruciating. However, flushing the affected skin with tap water immediately after the burn can be useful and relieving. Avoid any grease application on the wound site as it may trigger negative reaction which makes the wound worse.
  • Minor chemical burns can be left to heal by its own after rinsed off with tap water for 5 to 10 minutes. If the burnt skin is wounded, put a sterile gauze upon the wounded site and change the dressing regularly. Since antibiotic ointment is not recommended for a chemical burn, it is important to attach the bandage loosely. Too tight bandage will not be easy to remove, and this may cause the burnt site to be wounded after any dressing change.
  • If the burn does not cause any open wound to the skin, but trigger tingling sensation and pain, you can use the cold compress to make the pain subside. To do this, soak a towel into iced water and apply it onto the burn site. This will also constrict the blood vessels to reduce inflammation caused by chemical burns. Repeat the application several times until the pain is reduced.
  • If the wound on the chemical-burnt skin is severe and causes bleeding or drainage, it is important to get an immediate medical help. Pain relieving medications can be taken before you get any professional help with the burnt site.
  • As the burn heals, scabs may form. Avoid picking these scabs to prevent re-bleeding and infection. It is also important to not scratch the wound site although itching sensation might occur.

Burns caused by acid, alkaline or caustic chemicals can be very damaging and need immediate medical attention.

Call 999 and ask for urgent help.

Immediate first aid

After calling 999, to help prevent severe injuries from a chemical burn:

  • try to carefully remove the chemical and any contaminated clothing
  • rinse the affected area using as much clean water as possible

Remove the chemical and affected clothing

  • try to remove the chemical and contaminated clothing from contact with the skin and eyes, but be very careful not to touch or spread the chemical
  • use gloves or other protective materials to cover hands and, if possible, carefully cut away clothing such as T-shirts, rather than pulling them off over the head
  • do not wipe the skin as this may spread contamination
  • if the chemical is dry, brush it off the skin

Rinse continuously with clean water

  • rinse the affected area continuously with clean water as soon as possible
  • try to make sure the water can run off the affected area without pooling on the skin
  • only use water – do not rub or wipe the area

Stay on the phone until the ambulance arrives and follow any other advice given by the 999 call handler to avoid further injury.

Treatment in hospital

Immediate treatment for chemical burns in hospital includes:

  • continuing to wash off the corrosive substance with water until it's completely removed
  • cleaning the burn and covering it with an appropriate dressing
  • pain relief
  • a tetanus jab if necessary

Recovering from a chemical burn

Minor burns

Minor burns affecting the outer layer of skin and some of the underlying layer of tissue normally heal with good ongoing burn care, leaving minimal scarring.

Your dressing will need to be checked and changed regularly until the burn has completely healed to help prevent infection.

Chemical Burn On Hands

Severe burns

If the burn is severe, you may be referred to a specialist burns unit, which may be in a different hospital. You may stay in hospital for a number of days.

You may need surgery to remove the burnt area of skin and replace it with a section of skin (a graft) taken from another part of your body. See plastic surgery techniques for more information.

More severe and deeper burns can take months or even years to fully heal and usually leave some visible scarring. In some cases, the depth and location of the burn may also lead to problems such as sight loss or restricted use of limbs or muscles.

Specialist support

Specialist burns teams include occupational therapists, physiotherapists and mental health professionals who can support your recovery. For chemical burns affecting the eyes, you're also likely to be urgently assessed by an eye specialist to help minimise the risk of lasting vision loss.

If you've been the victim of an attack and continue to feel upset, anxious or afraid several days after the incident, you can ask to be referred to the hospital's mental health liaison team for support and treatment. Anyone with an existing mental health problem who has suffered an attack should also be referred to this team.

Burns support groups also provide practical and emotional support to victims and their families. Your care team should be able to signpost you to local groups, and the following national organisations can also help:

Chemical Burn From Hair Dye

  • Changing Faces provides support for people whose condition or injury affects their appearance
  • Victim Support provides help and advice to victims and witnesses of crimes
  • Katie Piper Foundation provides specific help for victims and families of acid attacks and other burns

Chemical Burn On Face

Page last reviewed: 18 September 2020
Next review due: 18 September 2023