Chemical Skin Burn
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW:
A chemical skin burn occurs when skin is damaged by chemicals. These chemicals may be found in cleaning products, paint stripper, and pesticides. Chemicals may also be found in some workplaces, such as wet or dry cement or battery acid.
Follow up with your primary healthcare provider or burn specialist in 1 day:
Chemical burns may be worse than they appear at first. They may also get worse over the first few days. You may need regular follow-up visits until your burn heals. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.
- Pain medicine: Do not wait until the pain is severe before you take your medicine.
- NSAIDs: These medicines decrease swelling, pain, and fever. NSAIDs are available without a doctor's order. Ask your primary healthcare provider which medicine is right for you, and how much to take. Take as directed. NSAIDs can cause stomach bleeding or kidney problems if not taken correctly.
- Acetaminophen: This medicine decreases pain and fever. It is available without a doctor's order. Ask how much to take and how often to take it. Follow directions. Acetaminophen can cause liver damage if not taken correctly.
- Antibiotic cream: This medicine will help fight or prevent an infection caused by bacteria.
- Anti-itching medicine: This medicine may help keep your burned skin from itching as it heals. It may be given as a pill or cream.
- Take your medicine as directed. Call your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.
Early care of the burn area:
Your burn will be covered with a bandage to keep it moist and clean. The bandage absorbs fluid that drains from the wound and helps prevent infection. Change your bandage as often as directed, and if it becomes soaked with fluid from the wound. You may need to change the bandage 2 times each day to start, and then once each week after that.
Later care of the burn area:
Do the following after healthy skin covers the burn area:
- Apply a moisturizer such as aloe vera cream to the burn area. This can help keep the skin moist and reduce itching. Loose, soft clothing can also help relieve itching.
- Do not expose your wound to direct sunlight. For at least 12 months, apply sunblock to your wound every time you go outside during the day. Use a sunblock with an SPF of 25 or higher.
- Follow instructions to help reduce scarring. Scars can limit your movement.
Prevent chemical skin burns:
- Store cleaning products out of the reach of children. Read the safety information on the labels of household cleaning products before you use them.
- Follow all safety rules in your workplace. Wear safety equipment such as gloves and goggles.
Contact your primary healthcare provider or burn specialist if:
- You have a fever.
- You have less energy and feel ill.
- You have blisters that rupture.
- You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.
Return to the emergency department if:
- Your burn has more redness, pain, or swelling.
- Your burn oozes yellow liquid that smells bad.
- Your burned skin starts to tighten and restrict your movement.
- Your burned skin changes color or a new wound develops.
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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.