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Chemical Burns

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Self-Care at Home

Begin basic first aid. Call Poison Control at 1-800-222-1222 if you do not know whther the chemical is toxic.

Immediately call 911 if you have a severe injury, any shortness of breath, chest pain, dizziness, or other symptoms throughout your body. If you are aiding an injured person with these symptoms, lay the person down and immediately call 911.

First Aid:

  • Remove yourself or the victim from the accident area.
  • Remove any contaminated clothing.
  • Wash the injured area to dilute or remove the substance, using large volumes of water. Wash for at least 20 minutes, taking care not to allow runoff to contact unaffected parts of your body. Gently brush away any solid materials, again avoiding unaffected body surfaces.
  • Especially wash away any chemical in your or the victim's eye. Sometimes the best way to get large amounts of water to your eye is to step into the shower.

Medical Treatment

  • IV fluids may be needed to normalize blood pressure and heart rate.
  • The IV access may also be used for any medications needed to treat pain or protect against infection.
  • Decontamination will begin (likely water irrigation).
  • You will be given any antidote to counteract the chemical, if appropriate.
  • Antibiotics often are not needed for minor chemical burns.
  • Wounds will be cleaned and bandaged with medicated creams and sterile wraps as needed.
  • Consultation with other medical specialists may be done.
  • Pain from a burn can often be severe. Adequate pain control will be addressed by your doctor.
  • If there is any indication of breathing problems, a breathing tube may be placed in your airway to help.
  • If needed, a tetanus booster will be given.

 

Next Steps - Follow-up

After leaving the emergency department, call your doctor within 24 hours to arrange follow-up care. Call sooner if any new problems or concerns arise.

Prevention

  • Secure all chemicals in and out of the home in locked cabinets or out of the reach of children.
  • When using chemicals, always follow directions and safety precautions on the label provided by the manufacturer.
  • Wear safety clothing and eye protection, and remember-safety first!

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