Chemical Burns

First Aid for a chemical burn starts by quickly removing any clothing or jewelry that has the chemical on it.  Doing so will help to prevent deeper burns and further injury.

Next, immediately flush the area with large amounts of gently streaming cool water.  You should rinse the area continuously for about 20 minutes.

Get to the emergency room immediately if the chemical burn has penetrated through the first layer of skin, and the resulting second-degree burn covers an area more than 3 inches (7.6 centimeters) in diameter; also, if the chemical burn occurred on the eye, hands, feet, face, groin or buttocks, or over a major joint. If you seek emergency assistance, take the chemical container or a complete description of the substance with you for identification.

Do not put any topical medicine on the burned area, such as burn creams or antibiotic ointments. Doing so might start a chemical reaction that could make the burn worse.  Instead, pat the area dry and loosely wrap the burn with dry, sterile gauze or a clean cloth.  If burning to the skin increases or worsens, unwrap the area and rinse again for several more minutes.

Taking an over-the-counter pain reliever is recommended: Provided you or the injured party are not allergic to the ingredients: Tylenol, Aleve, Motrin, or generic varieties of these medications can help relieve pain.

Seek emergency medical assistance if: The person shows signs of shock, such as fainting, pale complexion, breathing in a notably shallow manner, or experiences severe pain that cannot be controlled with over-the-counter pain relievers.

If you’re unsure whether a substance is toxic, call the poison control center at 800-222-1222. Be sure to have the name, content, or other details about the chemical when you call.  Always remember, when seeking emergency assistance, to take the chemical container or a complete description of the substance with you so that emergency staff can identify the chemical, and begin the best course of treatment.