Chemical Burns – Symptoms & First Aid Advice – St John Ambulance

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Chemical burns can occur from common household products, in industry, or from malicious acid attacks. Find out what to look for and what to do.
Severe chemical burn:
Chemicals can irritate and burn the skin causing damage that can sometimes be fatal. These burns can occur in industry or in the home from common household products. They can also occur from malicious acid attacks. Anyone with a chemical burn will need emergency help as soon as possible.
Look for:
First make sure that the area around the casualty is safe. Wear protective gloves, this will prevent you from coming into contact with the chemical.
Flood the burn with cool or lukewarm running water until the ambulance arrives, to disperse the chemical and stop it burning. When cooling, pour the water away from yourself to avoid being hit by any chemical splashes. Ensure any contaminated water does not collect near the casualty.
If the burn is severe, call 999 or 112 for emergency help. Pass on any details you may have of the chemical to ambulance control.
Carefully remove any contaminated clothing.
If the burn is minor and you have not yet called for help, send the casualty to hospital. Monitor their level of response while waiting for help.
Clinically reviewed by Dr Lynn Thomas, MStJ, BSc, MBBS, MA, FRCP
Page review date: March 2021
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