Managing Chemical Burns
Chemical burns are caused by either acid or alkaline chemicals coming into contact with a person’s skin. This could be in a workplace, school, home or through a chemical attack and can be very harmful. These types of burns need immediate attention to help reduce permanent skin damage and it is important people act quickly and call 999 straight away.
When treating a chemical burn, the aim is to minimise any long-term damage caused by the chemical, by removing as much as possible from the skin.
Follow these simple steps to help manage the chemical burn:
- Call 999 and ask for immediate help.
- If you have personal protective equipment to hand, like aprons and protective goggles, use these to protect yourself from the chemical too.
- Before the ambulance arrives, use running water to wash the chemical off the skin. Continue to do this for as long as possible, whether it’s by using bottled water, a tap, hose pipe or any water source you have available. Try to ensure the contaminated water can run off the skin so it does not pool or cause further damage to other areas of the body.
- Remove any contaminated clothing from the patient, cutting it rather than tearing if possible, to reduce the spread of the chemical. We recommend our Tough Cut Shears for this.
- Keep washing the chemical off the skin for as long as possible, taking care not to rub or wipe the skin.
In schools and workplaces, eye wash kits should be available where there is a risk of chemical burns. The Redcap Chemical Splash Station is a dustproof, wall mounted station containing all the essentials – including a phosphate buffer solution – needed to treat an acid or alkaline eye burn. The Redcap Eye Wash & Skin Flush solution has a neutralising effect which significantly reduces the flushing time and volume of fluid required to dilute and neutralise acid and alkali splashes. Replacement bottles of Redcap Eye Wash & Skin Flush are available and can also be kept in first aid kits as an additional burn care treatment.
In workplaces where hydrofluoric acid is used, it’s essential to have the HF Hydrofluoric Acid Antidote Gel (Calcium Gluconate Topical Gel) to hand for treatment of skin burns caused by hydrofluoric acid. The gel combines with, and neutralises, the fluoride ion present in HF acid reducing burn damage to the bone and deep tissue.
Burn dressings can not only help relieve pain, they also contain a formula to help stop the burning process and prevent further damage to the skin. At DS Medical we stock a range of Water-Jel and Burnshield dressings, including the Burnshield Face Mask which is specially designed and shaped to fit to the face. For instances where a range of sizes of burn dressings are needed, the Water-Jel Critical Burns Kit contains seven dressings in varying sizes as well as scissors to cut away contaminated clothing, all in a wipe clean kit bag. Cling film is often used by ambulance services and burns units to protect thermal burns from airborne contaminants and prevent moisture loss, however, it is best practice not to use cling film on chemical burns.