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Chemical Burns: Caring for Your Child

Chemical burns can occur when strong acids or alkalis come into contact with the skin and the eyes. Burns can also occur when a child inhales or eats these substances.

Immediate care for chemical skin exposure

  • If the chemical your child has been exposed to is a dry or powdered chemical, gently wipe the powder from the skin. Check the package for emergency advice.

  • For most exposures, remove clothing and any jewelry. Rinse the exposed area right away with running water for 20 minutes. A hose is best. but you may use a shower or faucet. Tissue damage will continue as long as the chemical is in touch with the skin.

  • Note: Don't use water to rinse dry lime or elemental metals such as sodium, potassium, magnesium, phosphorous, lithium, cesium, or titanium. Water can react with these substances to form dangerous byproducts.

  • Carefully remove the contaminated clothing. Be careful not to touch the unaffected skin with the contaminated clothing. Cut the clothing away, if needed.

  • If the chemical has splashed into your child's eyes, start rinsing their eyes right away and call 911. Continue rinsing until medical help has arrived. If your child wears contact lenses, try to remove them.

  • Cover the exposed area loosely with a dry, clean cloth.

  • Get medical care or dial 911for emergency medical attention. You can also call Poison Control at 800-222-1222.

  • Chemical burns that look mild may cause severe deep tissue injury. Always have your child examined by a healthcare provider as soon as possible, no matter how mild the injury seems.

Online Medical Reviewer: Liora C Adler MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Marianne Fraser MSN RN
Online Medical Reviewer: Raymond Kent Turley BSN MSN RN
Date Last Reviewed: 12/1/2020
© 2000-2021 The StayWell Company, LLC. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.