Dry ice is basically carbon dioxide in frozen form. It is characterized for sublimation where it transforms immediately into carbon dioxide gas instead of liquid once it melts. Dry ice is relatively colder than ice made from water. This is why it is important to be careful when handling dry ice. Take note that even inhaling dry ice in closed spaces is dangerous. The moment the dry ice melts, it transforms into carbon dioxide. If the individual inhales large amounts of the gas, he/she can pass out and even die. Take note that it is possible to develop first to third degree burns if accidental exposure to dry ice occurs.
Handling dry ice
When handling dry ice, it is important to use heavy gloves since a chunk of dry ice has the external temperature of -109.3 degrees Fahrenheit. The extremely cold surface can easily damage the skin if it is touched directly.
Always remember that dry ice freezes the skin cells. The injury that is sustained is quite similar to a burn and must be treated similar to burns. Due to this, do not taste or swallow dry ice. This is similar to drinking hot liquids, thus damaging the mouth, throat and even the esophagus.
Treatment for dry ice exposure
You can perform the following first aid measures if an individual is exposed to dry ice.
Soaking the affected tissue
If the skin comes in contact with dry ice, it is important to soak the dry ice burn in lukewarm water. The burned area must be kept immersed for at least 10-15 minutes. Avoid using hot water since this will only worsen the burn and even trigger the death of cells within and around the site of injury. By using a hand cloth that is immersed in cold water can help alleviate the dry ice burn. Do not use ice on the wound since this will only worsen the damage on the affected area.
Application of ointments
The application of ointments on a dry ice burn can help promote healing. Antibiotic ointments can help prevent the development of infections. You can also use aloe vera on the burn for its soothing effect as well as easing the pain. Nevertheless, in severe cases, it is best to seek immediate medical care.
Application of gauze
For a minor dry ice burn, you can use gauze that you have to wrap in a loose manner on the affected area. Avoid wrapping too tight since it can trap debris and lint in the wound. Make sure that the gauze is wrapped lightly enough to avoid any pressure on the wound.
By wrapping the wound, it helps minimize the swelling, pain and protect the blisters that usually form as a result of the burn. In case blisters develop, it is important not to break them open since it increases the risk for infections.
Pain relief for dry ice burn
You can provide over-the-counter medications for pain for relief. Ibuprofen can be given to help minimize the swelling linked with the dry ice burn. In case the symptoms are bothersome and persistent, it is best to consult a doctor so that stronger medications can be prescribed.