A chemical burn ensues after contact with or ingestion of a toxic agent. Since chemicals are found in many products used at home and at the workplace, there is significant potential for injury.
The common injury sites are the face, eyes, arms, hands, and legs. Many burns are small and require mild treatment in the outpatient setting. Note that the extent of the wounds may not be as apparent visually.
The presentation may be unpredictable and even deceiving. The clinical picture may feature any of the following signs at the site of contact: redness, irritation, burning, pain, numbness, blister formation, or darkened skin. Symptoms may include a cough, dyspnea, or emesis. If the eyes are affected, there is a risk of visual loss.
Patients with severe injuries may experience weakness, dizziness, loss of consciousness, dyspnea, and a cough. Additionally, life-threatening manifestations include hypotension, seizures, and arrhythmias.
The severity is determined by the depth and the percentage of the affected body surface according to charts available to clinicians. For example, in adults, the arm comprises 9% of the body surface.
The classification of burns
The depth of damage is as follows:
First-degree burns are superficial and involve the epidermis. Furthermore, second-degree injuries describe an extension into the dermal layer. This depth may be categorized as superficial or deep depending on the level of damage in the dermis. Finally, third-degree burns encompass the epidermis, dermis, and the underlying fat layer. Additionally, other structures are also affected such as hair follicles, sweat glands, and nerve endings.
All first-degree burns are considered minor. Also, second-degree injuries that involve less than 10% of the body are minor.
Moderate and severe burns are comprised of injuries sustained to the face, hands, feet, or genitals, as well as second-degree burns that affect greater than 10% of the body surface and all third-degree burns.
Entire Body System
Ranunculus arvensis, a plant that is a member of Ranunculaceae family, generally used for local treatment of joint pain, muscle pain, burns, lacerations, edema, abscess drainage, hemorrhoids, and warts among the population. [ncbi.nlm.nih.gov]
However, most of them are characterized by a superficial or profound destruction of the tissue and a sensation of intense heat or pain. [articleworld.org]
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are most commonly used for the relief of mild to moderate pain. [emedicine.medscape.com]
[…] and bandaging Pain management through an IV or other pain medications A tetanus booster to prevent bacterial infections Chemical burns rarely result in death, but it’s important to take the steps necessary to avoid infection and protect and heal damaged [verywellhealth.com]
The area is red, swollen, and painful but does not develop blisters. Sometimes, burns are deeper, with blisters and severe pain. [msdmanuals.com]
One person reported chemical burns and swelling to her face, neck, leg, upper body, chest and hands, and another reported permanent scarring from a chemical burn. [blackdoctor.org]
The authors present a case of periradicular extravasation of NaOCl with sequelae of pain, swelling, ecchymosis and parasthesia consistent with a chemical burn. The patient was treated with a nonsurgical medical management approach. [ncbi.nlm.nih.gov]
Do this 3 to 4 times a day to ease pain or swelling. If a bandage was put on, change it every day. Watch for the warning signs of infection listed below. If the wound is open, put an antibiotic ointment on it each day to prevent infection. [fairview.org]
At least one person described permanent scarring from the wounds, and others experienced burns, swelling of legs, faces, and swelling in other parts of the body. [dolmanlaw.com]
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. [drugs.com]
This is a weak acid, and, in dilute form, it will not cause immediate burning or pain on contact. [emedicine.com]
In Bangladesh, Colombia, Egypt and Pakistan, 17% of children with burns have a temporary disability and 18% have a permanent disability. Burns are the second most common injury in rural Nepal, accounting for 5% of disabilities. [who.int]
While chemical burns can happen to anyone, those at an increased risk include young children and older adults, as well as those who may have a physical disability preventing them from being able to safely handle chemicals. [study.com]
Because chemical burns can cause poor cosmesis and functional disability, a team approach to management is vital. (Level V) [statpearls.com]
Our team of attorneys will file a Workers’ Compensation Claim and will provide the legal services necessary to obtain payment from liable parties for medical bills, disability payments, rehabilitation costs, compensation for disfigurement/scars and the [altmanllp.com]
Bilateral ocular chemical exposure is especially devastating, often resulting in complete visual disability. [emedicine.medscape.com]
- Severe Pain
The area is red, swollen, and painful but does not develop blisters. Sometimes, burns are deeper, with blisters and severe pain. [msdmanuals.com]
During the ED treatment of the acute burn, use it intravenously (preferred) or intramuscularly for moderate or severe pain. [emedicine.medscape.com]
Symptoms may include: Severe pain in the eye Burning of the eye Tearing of that eye The symptoms of chemical burns of the eye(s) may resemble other eye conditions or medical problems. Always consult your child's doctor for a diagnosis. [chop.edu]
[Crossref] Ohata U, Hara H, Suzuki H (2005) 7 cases of hydrofluoric acid burn in which calcium gluconate was effective for relief of severe pain. Contact Dermatitis 53: 133-137. [oatext.com]
Symptoms include itching, bleaching or darkening of skin, burning sensations, trouble breathing, coughing blood and/or tissue necrosis. [en.wikipedia.org]
The 118 victims were mostly young men with 5%TBSA deep thickness burn of both lower extremities, including 31 patients who had additional light coughing. Of 58 patients who were finally hospitalized, 42 patients received surgical treatment. [ncbi.nlm.nih.gov]
[…] or shortness of breath Vomiting In severe cases, a person may develop any of the following symptoms: Low blood pressure Faintness, weakness, dizziness Shortness of breath or severe cough Headache Muscle twitching or seizures Cardiac arrest or irregular [ehsdb.com]
[…] or shortness of breath In severe cases, you may develop any of the following: Low blood pressure Faintness, weakness, dizziness Shortness of breath Severe cough Headache Muscle twitching or seizures Irregular heartbeat Cardiac arrest Chemical burns can [webmd.com]
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Product involved Nature of the product, concentration and length of exposure: sometimes specific first aid measures (rinsing time, antidote, …) Other Age and health status of the injured person, possible other lesions associated with the accident (fractures [santemontreal.qc.ca]
[…] the field of endodontics as lining of cavities, indirect and direct pulp capping, dressing after pulpotomy, dressing of the root canal between appointments, prevention of root resorption, repair of iatrogenic perforations, treatment of horizontal root fractures [srmjrds.in]
- Muscle Spasm
spasms or seizures Low blood pressure, irregular heartbeat, or even cardiac arrest If you, a loved one, or a coworker comes into contact with a corrosive substance, seek medical care immediately. [verywellhealth.com]
"She has blisters from her finger to her elbow and is in so much pain." [thesun.co.uk]
[…] roundup.jpg 2 606 × 2 525; 1,93 MB Blister-arm.jpg 350 × 235; 7 KB Blister-back.jpg 379 × 224; 9 KB Charakteristische Brandwunde von Wasserstoffperoxid H2O2.jpg 864 × 864; 123 KB Chemical burn injury..jpg 300 × 226; 56 KB Chemical burns follwong Israeli [commons.wikimedia.org]
If the burn has blistered or has removed the top layer of skin, you have a second-degree chemical burn. [healthfully.com]
Don't break blisters open. Broken blisters could get infected. If a blister breaks open by itself, blot up the liquid, and leave the skin that covered the blister. This helps protect the new skin. Try not to scratch the burn. [myhealth.alberta.ca]
An invisible spot on the thin-layer chromatography plate gave a test eczema and was further investigated with gas chromatography-mass spectrometry. DPGDA was detected in the spot. [ncbi.nlm.nih.gov]
In some cases, contact urticaria can be demonstrated only on damaged or previously eczematous skin, and it can be part of the mechanism responsible for maintenance of chronic eczemas الصفحة 416 - Loveless SE, Ladies GS, Gerberick GF, et al. (1996) Further [books.google.com]
[…] system cs Jednou, na střední škole, ale usnula jsem a probudila se s chemickými popáleninami druhého stupně. en I' il have these players play something like the murder of my father... before mine uncle cs Bodné rány a chemické popáleniny. en hiding their fears [glosbe.com]
The young boy will recover, but now understandably fears wearing shoes of any kind. Some of our readers may be surprised to learn that chemical burns from consumer products happen fairly frequently. [dolmanlaw.com]
[…] created a caliphate for the terrorist group that at its height was the size of Britain and imposed a brutal form of Islam on its inhabitants. archived recording (donald trump) The thug who tried so hard to intimidate others spent his last moments in utter fear [nytimes.com]
[…] irrigated three minutes after contact with some chemicals have a two-fold greater chance of becoming full thickness burns than wounds irrigated within one minute of chemical contact.3,8 An old axiom of avoiding neutralization in chemical burns out of fear [reliasmedia.com]
Well Photo Credit Illustration by Celia Jacobs Outrunning Hunger Intense exercise may change the way certain neurons influence our appetite and metabolism. [nytimes.com]
Concentrations of 10% may cause paresthesias and blanching of the skin. Concentrations of 35% or more will cause immediate blistering. [emedicine.com]
Lime juice is usually the culprit for the reaction, known as phytophotodermatitis but often cheekily referred to as "lime disease" (not to be confused with Lyme disease). [greatist.com]
All the action and violence worked and I never got confused by it. All that said, I wish Rachel was a stronger character. As Justin's love interest, she seemed a little lackluster compared to everyone else. [goodreads.com]
Systemic signs and symptoms including confusion, seizures, coma, pulmonary edema, and acidosis may occur within minutes of absorption.17,18 Chromic Acid. A 10% total body surface area cutaneous burn caused by chromic acid may be fatal. [reliasmedia.com]
- Unable to Walk
He suffered second-degree burns and was unable to walk due to his badly burned feet. The young boy will recover, but now understandably fears wearing shoes of any kind. [dolmanlaw.com]
Clinical evaluation includes the history of exposure, identification of the offending agent, a physical exam, and investigations.
Note that the studies are selected based on the severity and causes of the chemical burn.
In severe injuries, the clinician should obtain electrolytes, complete blood count (CBC), creatinine, blood urea nitrogen (BUN), glucose, urinalysis creatine phosphokinase, and a coagulation profile.
If caustics are consumed, then hemoglobin and hematocrit measurements are warranted. Additionally, if there is respiratory involvement, this necessitates arterial blood gas (ABG) or other measures.
Calcium, magnesium, and potassium levels are obtained in hydrofluoric acid burns while creatinine and BUN are warranted in chromic acid injuries. Additionally, oxalic acid burns require calcium measurement.
Furthermore, electrolytes, CBC, creatinine levels, liver function tests (LFTs), and urinalysis are performed in patients with phenol injuries. Finally, electrolytes and ABG tests are indicated in monofluoroacetic acid burns.
Esophagoscopy and gastroscopy are indicated in cases suggestive of oral intake. For example, these studies are performed in patients with symptomatic ingestions and those who are asymptomatic but have previously ingested harmful substances  .
In patients with evidence of esophageal burns, the injury is described according to the layers it involves: superficial, transmucosal, or transmural.
Note that only 2% to 15% of patients with esophageal damages have oral burns.
The treatment should be prompt. First aid should be applied immediately or as soon as possible. In fact, the chemical should be rinsed under running water for a duration of 10 to 20 minutes . Likewise, if there is eye exposure, it should be rinsed for a minimum of 20 minutes prior to seeking emergency therapy. Also, all contaminated clothing or material on the body should be removed quickly.
Additionally, the burned area should be loosely wrapped in a sterile and dry dressing or cloth.
With regards to pain, superficial injuries can be treated with over-the-counter analgesics. However, significant burns require emergent care and stronger pain medications.
The patient must go to the nearest emergency room if the following signs are exhibited :
- Shallow breathing
- Signs of shock
- Measurement of the burn is greater than 3 inches
- Injury involves the eyes, hands, feet, groin, buttocks, or major joint
- Over- the-counter analgesics do not achieve pain control
Wound care therapy may include debridement, use of antibiotics and anti-itching medications, skin grafting, intravenous fluids, and specialized dressings.
Note that there are contraindications such as gastric emptying. For example, measures such as charcoal use or dilution with milk or water should be avoided. Anything that may compromise the airway or the endoscopic procedure is not permitted.
The clinician should be cautious of adding water to products that contain sulfuric acid or sodium hydroxide since the resultant reactions will produce heat. Hence, this heat formation can be limited if diluting with 250-500ml of fluid .
The outcomes of dermal burns are related to the degree of involvement. For example, first-degree and mild second-degree burns will typically recover in days to weeks. These do not usually produce scars. However, deep second-degree and mild third-degree require weeks to heal and are associated with scar formation. Also, skin grafting is commonly indicated with these injuries.
With regards to prognosis, there is a high risk of mortality with burns that affect greater than 90% of the body. In fact, in more advanced ages, greater than 60% may result in death.
As for specific manifestations, it depends on the location of the injuries. Caustic burns will produce scarring especially in certain areas of the body. Also, eye injuries may lead to blindness while esophageal and gastric burns may result in the formation of a stricture. Note that patients with full thickness esophageal burns are predisposed to stricture formation.
There is a broad spectrum of industrial and commercial products that are composed of toxic levels of acids, bases, and other substances that cause burn injuries  .
There are multiple forms of an acid such as sulfuric acid, hydrofluoric acid, hydrochloric acid, phosphoric acid, acetic acid, formic acid, chloroacetic acid, phenols, and cresols.
Frequently found in drain cleaners, battery fluid, and fertilizer production is sulfuric acid. Some products contain 8% acid while others are made up of nearly 100% acid. Additionally, hydrofluoric acid is often present in tire cleaners, rust removers, tanning, petroleum refining and other products.
Another type, hydrochloric acid, is used in metal cleaners, dye manufacturing, swimming pool cleaners, and laboratory chemicals. The levels are anywhere from 5% to 44%. Furthermore, phosphoric acid is added in disinfectants, metal cleaners, and fertilizer products while acetic acid constitutes disinfectants and dyes. Also, formic acid is used in tanning and cellulose manufacturing.
Mono, di, and trichloroacetic acid are key ingredients in the manufacturing chemicals. Additionally, mono chloroacetic acid leads to systemic toxicity since it disrupts cellular respiration.
Other acids such as phenol are used in plastics, drugs, and disinfectants while cresol is used in wood preservatives and degreasing products.
Some of the most common bases are sodium hydroxide, calcium oxide, sodium and calcium hypochlorite, ammonia, phosphates, sodium carbonate, and lithium hydride. These are found in a variety of products. For example, sodium hydroxide is an ingredient in drain and denture cleaners while ammonia, sodium carbonate and phosphates are constituents in detergents.
Calcium oxide is the corrosive component in cement that causes burns if diluted with water. Meanwhile, bleach contains sodium and calcium hypochlorite. Along with sodium hydroxide, hypochlorite is also found in pool chlorinating mixes, which are caustic.
The space industry utilizes lithium hydride to absorb carbon dioxide. The reactions that occur with water produce hydrogen and lithium hydroxide which cause thermal and alkaline injuries.
Oxidants include bleach, peroxides, and chromates. Peroxides are key elements in hair dyes while chromates are components of industrial chemicals in tanning, painting, and printing. In fact, chromates cause significant skin injuries and systemic toxicity such as kidney failure.
Phosphorous is present in fireworks, munitions, and fertilizer. Moreover, when these products explode, phosphorous residue remains on the skin and smolder . Other potentially hazardous materials are hair dyes  as they may burn the scalp.
Chemical warfare products such as sulfur and nitrogen mustards are blistering agents.
The emergency department frequently treats chemical injuries, and almost 5% of patients are admitted . While the number of burns previously declined, it has been constantly steady since 2000.
Corrosive substances are used worldwide in aggressive situations. Furthermore, the likely victims of chemical assaults are women .
The pathogenic mechanisms differ in accordance to the type of offending substance.
This chemical causes coagulation necrosis through the denaturation of proteins. Furthermore, this injury develops a coagulum that restricts the penetration of the agent.
One exception is hydrofluoric acid, which produces a liquefaction necrosis.
These agents lead to liquefaction necrosis, which is a more significant injury. In addition to protein denaturation, fat saponification occurs as well. Moreover, penetration of tissue is permitted.
Factors related to severity
The pH, concentration, and volume of the chemical, as well as the duration of exposure, play a role in the degree of severity of the burn. Additionally, the site and method of contact, the type of chemical, and length of time to washing also influence the damage. For example, the consumption of solid form of alkaline products leads to increased length of contact time in the gastrointestinal tract. This is correlated with serious destruction. Similarly, concentrated products that are diluted or neutralized will develop heat and yield thermal and caustic damage.
Preventive measures include wearing protective clothing on the body and eyes when handling chemicals. Additionally, everyone should follow safety precautions and directions. Finally, all chemical agents should be secured out of the reach of children.
A burn is a damage or an injury to the human tissue that occurs due to electricity, chemicals, heat, friction or various other factors. Chemical burns can result from various irritants such as acids, bases, and oxidants, all of which can be found in home products as well as products used in workplaces such as manufacturing plants. Since cleaners, disinfectants, fertilizers, laboratory products, and bleach all contain toxic substances, there is potential for accidental injuries.
The overall clinical picture of the burn depends on the chemical to which the exposure occurred. Furthermore, the factors that determine the extent of the tissue damage are the pH, concentration, and volume of the agent as well as the duration and method of contact. While some burns are minor, others may be so severe that systemic toxicity ensues.
The clinician should perform a thorough physical exam to identify the amount of body surface that is harmed as well as the depth of the tissue destruction. Also, the medical team should ascertain what the offending agent is if possible as this can guide the appropriate workup and treatment. If the chemical was ingested, then an esophagoscopy and a gastroscopy are warranted.
Regarding the first aid response, immediate removal of the contaminated clothing and washing of the affected sites are essential. Critically ill patients will need immediate medical attention and stabilization. Also, wound care, pain management, and other treatments may be indicated.
Regarding prevention, precautionary measures include following proper guidelines and wearing protective clothing when handling chemicals.
When a chemical comes in contact with the skin or eyes, this may cause a burn. These types of injuries may occur through accidental exposures with toxic products at home or in the workplace. Examples of the latter include chemical plants, pool maintenance, mining, fertilizer manufacturing, and the aerospace industry since all use heavy chemical and toxins. Therefore, employees in these professions are at risk for accidents and injuries.
The following toxic agents are used in various products:
- Silver nitrate
- Hydrochloric acid
- Sulfuric acid
- Phosphoric acid
- Acetic acid
- Calcium hydroxide
- Sulfur mustard
Skin burns exhibit the following:
In seriousness cases, the symptoms are:
- Breathing problems
- Abdominal pain
- Abnormal heart rhythm
- Death (in worst cases)
How are burns diagnosed?
The medical team will evaluate the extent and depth of the burns. In severe cases, the team will need to stabilize the patient. Also, they will obtain blood tests. If the chemical was ingested, then an esophagoscopy and gastroscopy are performed.
The symptoms depend on the chemical, the amount, the concentration, how long the skin was exposed to it, and whether the exposure was through skin contact or ingestion.
The burn is classified as a first, second, or third-degree depending on which layers of the skin are involved. Also important is the percentage of the body surface affected by the burn.
What is the treatment?
The treatment consists of pain management which can be achieved with over-the-counter analgesics such as acetaminophen. Also, antibiotics may be necessary. In severe cases, the patient may need skin grafting and other appropriate care and management.
How can burns be prevented?
All products and chemicals should be placed out of the reach of children. Additionally, everyone should follow the instructions when using these products. Finally, protective clothing and eye gear should be worn when handling chemical substances.
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