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Chemical burns can come from many different types of substances we encounter every day. Daily work exposes us to some common ones such as gasoline, cleaners, paint thinners, and acids. Handling these chemicals on a regular basis can create dangerous habits where we “forget” about the potential dangers these chemicals have. Every chemical has the potential to cause burns upon contact and can lead to shock and infection.

So What Can We Do?

First, we can wear the proper personal protective equipment such as gloves, goggles, or an apron to eliminate or reduce potential chemical exposures. Proper handling of chemicals can be found on their respective safety data sheets (SDS).  Call 911 and seek immediate care when the chemical burn is deep, covers an area greater than three inches in diameter, or covers any of the following areas: hands, feet, groin, head, or neck.

If exposure does occur information regarding first aid treatment can be obtained from the chemical’s SDS, calling poison control at 1-800-222-1222, or calling 911.  Call 911 and seek immediate care when the chemical burn is deep, covers an area greater than three inches in diameter, or covers any of the following areas: hands, feet, groin, head, or neck.  

Steps To Be Taken Immediately If You Have Been Burned By A Chemical

• If burned by a dry chemical, brush off residual material before flushing the area. Be sure to wear appropriate gloves or a clean towel or brush to protect against additional exposure.
• Flush the chemical off of the skin with clean, cool, running water for a minimum of 10
minutes; 20 minutes is recommended or until professional medical help arrives.
• If the burning sensation continues, flush again for several more minutes
• As you are flushing the burn, remove any contaminated clothing or jewelry.
• If they are stuck to the skin, do not remove them.
• Do not try to neutralize the burn with acid or alkali, this may cause a chemical reaction
that could result in a more severe burn.
• Do not put ointments or creams on the burn.
• After flushing, loosely cover the burned area using a sterile gauze or clean cloth. Avoid
putting pressure on the burned skin.
• If there is any question regarding first aid measures, consult the chemical’s SDS sheet or
poison control.

Eye First Aid For Chemicals

Chemicals in the eye should be flushed out immediately with large amounts of water to reduce the
chance of eye damage. Many chemicals, including soaps and shampoos, can cause the eye to
burn, but flushing them immediately can usually prevent permanent damage.
• Acidic products include toilet bowl cleaners, battery acid, bleach, and chemicals in gasoline
can cause burning in the eye and can result in severe damage which is typically localized to
the point of contact.
• Alkaline products including lime products, plaster, mortar, oven and drain cleaners, fertilizers,
and dishwasher soaps can cause serious damage, where burns penetrate and the damage
is deeper into the layers of tissue.

First Aid

• Flush the eye with large amounts of water for 30 minutes.
• Ensure that the flushing of chemical from one eye does not contaminate the other.
• If you are wearing contacts, remove them prior to flushing if possible.
• Contact the poison control center or reference the SDS sheet for more information, and seek
medical help.

Take a moment to review SDS sheets of commonly used chemicals, ensure they are up to date,
and that all employees know the location of SDS sheets. Need further training? Contact us today.


Author craigsafetydev

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