What is first aid for chemical burns?

First Aid for Chemical Burns

How to treat a chemical burn

Not all chemical burns are treated with water. Follow the instructions below to care for those other types of burns.
  • Carbolic acid or phenol burns. Use isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol first to flush the chemical off the skin. Then flush with water. If alcohol isn't available, flush with a large amount of water. Do not flush the eye with alcohol.
  • Sulfuric acid burns. Flush with a mild, soapy solution if the burns aren't severe. Sulfuric acid feels hot when water is added to the acid. But it's better to flush the area and not leave the acid on the skin.
  • Dry powder burns. Brush the powder away first. That's because adding water can make a liquid that burns. After the powder is brushed away, flush with water for 20 minutes. Lime is an example of a dry powder burn.
  • Metal compound burns. Cover these burns with mineral oil.

A chemical burn can be caused by alkaline or acid products, metals, and hydrocarbons, such as gas.

Most chemical burns of the skin are treated first by rinsing (flushing) the chemical off your body with a large amount of water. It's important to treat the burn correctly to avoid further problems.

This is general information for treating a chemical burn. Call a Poison Control Center for more specific information.

If someone has swallowed a chemical that may be a poison or that may cause burning in the throat and esophagus, call your local Poison Control Center or the National Poison Control Hotline (1-800-222-1222) right away for information on treatment. When you call the Poison Control Center, have the chemical container with you, so you can read the content label to the Poison Control staff member. The Poison Control Center can help determine what steps to take next.

  1. Flush the area with water.
    • Flush for at least 20 minutes. Don't use a hard spray of water. It can damage the burned area.
    • Have the person with the burn remove the chemical substance if he or she is able.
    • Put on gloves to protect yourself from the chemical, if you need to remove it.
  2. Remove anything that the chemical may be on.

    As you flush the area, take off any clothing or jewelry that has the chemical on it.

  3. Continue to flush, if needed.

    If the area still has a burning sensation after 20 minutes, flush the area again with flowing water for 10 to 15 minutes.

If you need to see a doctor for the burn, take the chemical container with you.

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The content above contains general health information provided by Healthwise, Incorporated, and reviewed by its medical experts. This content should not replace the advice of your healthcare provider. Not all treatments or services described are offered as services by us. For recommended treatments, please consult your healthcare provider.

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