Ways & How

how to treat chemical burns

how to treat chemical burns

A chemical burn occurs when a corrosive substance contacts living tissue. Corrosive is derived from corrodere, which is a Latin verb meaning ‘to gnaw’. This describes the way the chemical ‘gnaws’ through material after contact. This is exactly why it is very important to know how to treat chemical burns as they pose a very serious health threat. Corrosive substances can be acids (sulfuric acid, nitric acid, hydrochloric acid, aluminum chloride, etc), bases (sodium hydroxide, potassium hydroxide, sodium dydride, etc), oxidizers (hydrogen peroxide), dehydrating agents (calcium oxide, zinc chloride) or alkylants (dimethyl sulfate). The effects of these substances vary depending on their chemical composition, but they are all equally dangerous. Once living tissue is exposed to one of these substances, a person may feel an instant itching or burning sensation, notice discoloring of the skin or even experience difficulty in breathing. There are different situations wherein you may suffer a chemical burn.

ect contact, inhalation and ingestion are a few examples. Although all of them are possible, chemical burns on the skin is the most common. Here are some ways to treat a chemical burn:

  1. Call for help. Depending on the degree and severity of the burn, you can call a nurse, physician, EMT or 911. It is best that you consult those who are more knowledgeable with these kinds of accidents. While waiting for help to arrive, you can follow and execute the succeeding steps.

  2. If you can, put on gloves or any protective clothing to protect the rest of your body. If you have protective glasses and a mask, use them as well. You should do this even if you are the one treating the victim. Always ensure your safety. Remember, the goal here is to make sure that there will be no more accidents.

  3. Depending on what kind of substance caused the burn, try to remove it using a gloved hand. Be careful when dealing with powdered agents as they can spread easily. This is the very reason for using protective garments. Also, get rid of any contaminated items. Place them inside a plastic bag and seal properly.

  4. The next thing that you have to do is to wash the chemical substance off your skin. It is best that you pour cold water over the area for at least 15 to 20 minutes or until help arrives. Make sure that the water goes down the sink or to the ground without touching any other part of your body. Be very gentle in pouring the water. If you are using a faucet, make sure it does not have a strong stream of water.

  5. Dry the area using sterile gauze, cotton or a clean cloth. Be sure to pat dry the area gently and avoid rubbing it. Throw away the cloth or gauze after use.

  6. Wrap the burned area with new, sterile gauze or a clean cloth. Make sure that the area stays clean and dry.

Never put any neutralizing agent on the area. It might have a chemical reaction to the existing substance present on the skin. Avoid antibiotics, cooling gels and the like. Also, properly dispose of the contaminated objects. You can ask your local sanitary office for proper disposal. The steps on how to treat chemicals burn are more of a First Aid checklist. A physician or any expert on chemicals should further evaluate chemical burns.


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