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Chemical Burns

Author / Coordinator:  
Mayo Clinic
March 2007

If a chemical burns the skin, follow these steps:

Remove the cause of the burn by flushing the chemicals off the skin surface with cool, running water for 20 minutes or more. If the burning chemical is a powder-like substance such as lime, brush it off the skin before flushing.

Remove clothing or jewelry that has been contaminated by the chemical.

Consider using a lotion, such as one containing aloe vera, to prevent drying and to make the skin feel more comfortable.

Wrap the burned area with a dry, sterile dressing or a clean cloth.

Rinse the burn again for several more minutes if the victim complains of increased burning after the initial washing.

Minor chemical burns usually heal without further treatment.

Seek emergency medical assistance if:

The victim has signs of shock, such as fainting, pale complexion or breathing in a notably shallow manner.

The chemical burned through the first layer of skin and the resulting second-degree burn covers an area more than 2 to 3 inches in diameter.

The chemical burn occurred on the eye, hands, feet, face, groin or buttocks or over a major joint.

If you’re unsure whether a substance is toxic, call the poison control center at (800) 222-1222. If you seek emergency assistance, bring the chemical container or a complete description of the substance with you for identification.

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