Suppose you are at home cleaning, or at your job working with chemicals, when suddenly you experience a chemical burn. Sometimes you may not even realize it is happening until it becomes too serious for first aid. Chemical burns often start out as an “irritation” before turning into something much worse. Sometimes the chemical you were using needs professional attention. With some injuries, the most critical time for treatment occurs in the first few minutes. In an emergency, you may not know what to do. Worse still, if someone you know has suffered a chemical burn, they may be in shock or unable to treat themselves. First aid for chemical burns can be much more complicated than treating a normal injury, and you should always contact a medical professional before trying to administer treatment yourself.
Things To Remember When Dealing With A Chemical Burn
The first step for any injury, especially a chemical burn, is to get medical help right away. A medical professional can walk you through the steps to treatment, while also sending a professional to your location to administer treatment. If you are in a situation that prevents you from contacting a professional, there are some important things to keep in mind. The first is that you will want to separate the chemical from the affected area of your body as soon as possible. This is most often done with washing or flushing the affected area with water for several minutes. This is the best method unless you are dealing with the following chemicals:
- Calcium Oxide
- Dry Lime
These elemental metals and chemical compounds are prone to violent reactions when they come in contact with water, so any water should be avoided. Instead, any and all fragments of these materials should be removed using dry forceps and placed in a non-water solution such as mineral oil to avoid reactions. When dealing with sodium in particular, it is important to know that sodium will violently explode when it comes into contact with water.
If you are certain the burn does not contain the above chemicals, follow these guidelines from WebMD for emergency treatment. First, use water to flush the affected area for at least 20 minutes or until medical professionals are available. Avoid using a strong or high-pressure stream of water. While the burn is being flushed, remove any jewelry or clothing affected, unless it is stuck to the body. If there are additional instructions on the chemical’s label or container follow them.
When you are dealing with chemical burns, under no circumstances whatsoever should you ever attempt to “neutralize” a burn with an acid or base. This can cause an even more severe reaction. You should also avoid putting any antibiotic on the burn until medical professionals arrive, as a standard ointment may cause a reaction.
Remember, these above tips are not to be used as “rule of thumb” or a first step. If you receive a chemical burn your first step should always be to get help from a medical professional before taking any action.