Monday, October 6, 2008

Chemical Burns

Chemical burns are tissue destructions caused by acids or alkalis. The degree of damage depends on the concentration of the burning substance, the quantity and the period of exposure. There is a number of substances and liquids that can cause both poisonings and chemical burns.

Chemical burns of the skin

Symptoms and signs

  • Increasing pain, as long as the skin is in contact with chemicals
  • Slough formation (acids), glassy bloating (alkalis)


Serious, deep wounds with a high risk of infection, risk of shock, if large portions of the skin have been affected.

First Aid

  • Immediately remove contaminated clothing.
  • Flood the affected area with clean running water, make sure that the contaminated water drains away freely and safely to avoid contact with unaffected parts of the body.
  • Apply a sterile dressing.
  • Treat shock if necessary.
  • Emergency call.

Chemical burns of the eye:

Symptoms and signs

  • Extreme squiring of the eyelids because of severe pain in the injured eye.
  • Reddening


Damage to the cornea (even blinding)

First Aid

  • Wash the eye intensively with clean water for 10 to 15 minutes. If the casualty himself is unable to wash his eye (e.g. hold head under the trap, the shower, etc.), proceed as follows:

Lay the casualty down

Turn his head to the affected side

First remove visible particles (lime crumbs) with a handkerchief;

Separate the eyelids with two fingers of one hand and pour water from a height of approx. 10 cm into the inner corner of the eye, so that it can drain off over the eyeball and the outer corner of the eye (in case of severe cramping of the lid you need a helper).

Ask the casualty to move his eye in all directions while it is being washed;

Protect the unaffected eye.

  • Cover the eye with a sterile dressing; if damage is severe cover both eyes to prevent eye-injuries.
  • Shock treatment if necessary.
  • Emergency call.

Chemical burns to the digestive tract:

Symptom and sign:

  • Intense pain
  • Increase flow of saliva because of swallowing difficulties
  • Micros membranes changes by coatings (often whitish swellings) or by bleeding


Chemical burns of the digestive tract are particularly dangerous, as ruptures can occur resulting in heavy, scarred constrictions, which obstruct the passage of flood through the oesophagus.

First Aid:

  • Wash out the mouth, then
  • If substance known, call the Poison Information Center, and follow their instructions.
  • Threat for shock.
  • Emergency call. Make sure that chemicals found at the scene of the incident, if possible in the original wrapping or container, are also taken to the hospital for identification; do not endanger your self.


Household Chemicals:

  • Use poisonous, caustic, highly inflammable chemicals as little as possible.
  • Always keep chemicals in the original container, do not fill them into in beverage bottles.
  • Do not damage or remove labels and inscriptions.
  • Never store chemicals together with foodstuffs.
  • Read the instructions carefully before use and follow them! Use any recommended protective equipment and take the required precautionary measures
  • Do not use undiluted concentrates (e.g. vinegar essence)
  • Never smell, taste, or drink from vessels with unknown contents.
  • Keep chemicals out of the reach of children or lock them away.
  • Detergents and cleaning agents can be poisonous or caustic.
  • Dispose of chemical substances correctly. Do not flush down the toilet or put into household refuse.
  • Treat medical drugs the same way.

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