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Chemical Burns


Once all immediate danger has passed and you have completed basic first aid, call your doctor to review your injury and the chemical involved to make sure you need no further emergency treatment. Your doctor can arrange appropriate treatment or will direct you to go to a hospital’s Emergency Department.

Any chemical burn can be a legitimate reason to summon emergency medical help. Always err on the side of safety and call 911 if you don’t know the severity of the injury, medical stability of the person injured, or if you have any concerns about a chemical injury.

Emergency personnel are trained to assess the extent of a chemical burn, begin treatment, and transport victims to the most appropriate hospital.

Emergency officials also may determine the need for more involved decontamination of both you and the accident site prior to going to the hospital. When you contact emergency, tell the dispatcher as much of the following information as possible:

  • Number and location of the injured person or people
  • Mechanism or nature of injury (how it happened)
  • Whether emergency personnel can reach the victims (are victims trapped?)
  • Name, strength, and volume or quantity of the chemical causing the burn (give a container of the chemical to emergency personnel, if possible)
  • Length of time of contact with the chemical
Self-Care at Home

Begin basic first aid. Immediately call 911 if you have a severe injury, any shortness of breath, chest pain, dizziness, or other symptoms throughout your body. If you are aiding an injured person with these symptoms, lay the person down and immediately call 911.

  • Remove yourself or the victim from the accident area.
  • Remove any contaminated clothing.
  • Wash the injured area to dilute or remove the substance, using large volumes of water. Wash for at least 20 minutes, taking care not to allow runoff to contact unaffected parts of your body. Gently brush away any solid materials, again avoiding unaffected body surfaces.
  • Especially wash away any chemical in your eye. Sometimes the best way to get large amounts of water to your eye is to step into the shower.

After leaving the emergency department, call your doctor within 24 hours to arrange follow-up care. Call sooner if any new problems or concerns arise.


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