Alkaline products include lime products, plaster and mortar, oven and
drain cleaners, dishwasher powders, fertilizers, and sparks from "sparklers."
They can cause serious damage in a very short time, depending on the type,
strength, and the length of time the alkali is in contact with the body.
Alkaline chemicals are able to penetrate and damage the deeper layers of
When a chemical burn occurs, find out what chemical caused the burn.
Call a Poison Control Center immediately for more
information about how to treat the burn. When you call the Poison Control
Center, have the chemical container with you, so you can read the contents
label to the Poison Control staff member.
White patches of skin that are numb
For frostbite (superficial or deep):
Skin that is white or grayish-yellow and feels hard, waxy, or numb, or is blistering or becoming darkened or black
Other symptoms include swelling, itching, burning, and deep pain during the rewarming/healing process.
Get medical attention immediately if you think you may have frostbite.
Most chemical burns are treated first by rinsing (flushing) the
chemical off your body with a large amount of cool water, but not all chemicals
are treated this way. It is important to treat the burn correctly to avoid
Chemical burns rinsed with water
Immediately rinse with a large amount of cool
water. Rinsing within 1 minute of the burn can reduce the risk of
Flush the area for at least 20 minutes.
Do not use a hard spray of water because
it can damage the burned area.
Have the person with the chemical
burn remove the chemical if he or she is able.
Put on gloves to
protect yourself from the chemical, if you need to remove it.
As you flush the area, take off any clothing or
jewelry that has the chemical on it.
If the area still has a
burning sensation after 20 minutes, flush the area again with flowing water for
10 to 15 minutes.
Chemical burns not rinsed with water
Some alkali burns are made worse if rinsed (flushed) with
Dry powders, such as dry
lime, are brushed away first, because adding water can make a liquid that
burns. After the powder is brushed away, flush with water for 20
Metal compounds are covered with mineral
The most important first aid for a chemical in the eye is to immediately flush the substance out with large amounts of
water to reduce the chance of serious eye damage. For any chemical burn to the
eye, see the topic Burns to the Eye.
In this article
This information is produced and provided by the National
Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National
Institute via the Internet web site at http://
.gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.
WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise
December 27, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor.
Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this