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Chemical Burns (part I)

Chemical burns of the skin are burns that happen when strong acids or strong bases (alkalies) come in contact with the skin. Chemical burns follow the standard burn classification (first part I, II, second and third degree part I, II), most chemical burns occur on the face, eyes, arms and legs.

Clinical features:

The exact clinical features of a chemical burn depends on the type of chemical substance involved, it’s concentration, it’s physical form, duration of contact, site of contact, whether or not the skin is intact and if the substance is swallowed or inhaled. Symptoms may include:

  1. Redness, irritation, or burning at the contact site.
  2. Pain or numbness at the contact site.
  3. Acidic chemicals cause a black dead skin because they denature proteins.
  4. Alkali chemicals cause deep tissue injury to the skin because they denature proteins and cause saponification (hydrolysis) of fats.
  5. If the chemical substance comes in contact with the eye it may lead to vision changes or complete loss of sight.
  6. If the chemical substance is swallowed or inhaled this may lead to vomiting, headache, cough or shortness of breath, faintness, weakness, dizziness, muscle twitching, seizures, irregular heartbeats or cardiac arrest.

This information is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice; it should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. Call 911 for all medical emergencies.

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