A chemical burn occurs if the eyes or skin is exposed to an irritant such as a base or an acid. The injury can trigger a reaction on the skin or inside the body. If a chemical was ingested, it can affect the internal organs.
Bases and acids causes most chemical burns. Some of the common products that can cause a chemical burn include:
- Car battery acid
- Denture cleaners
- Teeth whitening products
- Pool chlorination products
What are the signs?
The indications of a chemical burn are based on how the burn occurred. Take note that a burn caused by ingestion of a chemical triggers different symptoms than a burn on the skin.
Generally, the usual signs linked with a chemical burn include:
- Blackened or dead skin, usually seen in burns caused by acid
- Redness, irritation or burning of the site
- Pain or numbness in the site
- Change or loss of vision if the eyes are affected
Some of the signs that might arise if a chemical was ingested include:
- Erratic heart rate
- Shortness of breath
- Low blood pressure
- Muscle twitching
- Heart attack
Management of a chemical burn
If a chemical burn is suspected, first aid care must be started right away. This involves removal of the chemical responsible for the burn and flushing the skin under running water for 10-20 minutes.
If the eyes were exposed, flush the eyes continuously for a minimum of 20 minutes before bringing the individual to the nearest emergency department.
Any clothes or jewelry that has been contaminated by the chemical must be removed. Cover the site loosely with dry sterilized dressing or clean cloth if possible. An over-the-counter medication for pain can be given for a superficial burn. For severe burns, the individual should be taken to the nearest emergency department for further assessment and treatment.
Quick Note / Disclaimer
The material posted on this page on a chemical burn is for learning and educational purposes only. To learn how it is cared for, register for a first aid and CPR course with Mississauga First Aid.