Individuals who face the highest risk for chemical burns include the elderly, infants and disabled since they could not handle chemicals properly. In most cases, a chemical burn can be sustained unintentionally or not following the proper safety measures when chemicals are used at work or school. Individuals who have diminished mobility also face a high risk for chemical burns if they are handling chemicals without guidance or assistance.
Call for emergency assistance for severe cases
You have to immediately call for emergency assistance if the individual sustains a severe chemical burn. The symptoms of a severe chemical burn include a large surface area, chest pain, shortness of breath, diminished blood pressure, dizziness, fainting, palpitations, pallor, chills and sweating.
Do not attempt to remove any clothing on or close to the burn site. You have to run cool water on the affected area, elevating the site higher than the level of the heart if possible and avoid breaking open the blisters. Any leftover chemical on the face or eyes must be washed away. If washing the face is not effective, instruct the individual to remove chemicals from the body or face.
Cold water on chemical burn
The ideal treatment for a chemical burn is to run cold water over the affected area immediately in order to minimize the progression of the burn, risk for infection, swelling and pain. Nevertheless, hypothermia can also occur if you will run cold water over the burn area for more than 20-30 minutes. Additionally, you have to keep the contaminated water from running over the unaffected areas. You can learn more about burn care by enrolling in a first aid class today.
Apply mineral oil or petroleum in some burns
You can utilize mineral oil instead of water to clean chemical burns caused by sodium, metallic lithium, magnesium or potassium. Take note that these chemicals react with water, thus using mineral oil is the best option. Take away remaining metal pieces using forceps or tweezers. Nevertheless, if it is not possible, you have to soak the affected area in mineral oil. As for petroleum jelly, it can be used on burns caused by white phosphorus.
Manage the pain using NSAIDs
Those who are experiencing pain can be given NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen, aspirin or naproxen. These medications can also help reduce the inflammation but must be used for a short time only. It is best to consult a doctor before these medications are used to make sure that they will not disrupt other medications being taken. In case the pain lasts and becomes severe, the doctor will prescribe a more powerful pain medication such as an opioid.
After the chemical burn is properly cleaned, do not apply any ointment on the affected area. Always bear in mind that antimicrobial ointments must not be used until prescribed by a doctor. Nevertheless, it is vital to ensure that the burn is appropriately covered by using the correct type of dressing. The preferred choice is polyvinyl chloride film but cotton gauze sheet can also be used. The dressing must be applied loosely and changed every 24-48 hours. The doctor should inspect the wound for any signs of infection or any other complications. If infection is present, oral or topical antibiotics are prescribed.