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First Aid and Emergencies

Chemical Burns

Home Treatment - When to Call a Health Professional

Chemical burns occur when something caustic, such as a cleaning product, gasoline, or turpentine, is splashed into an eye or onto the skin.

The vapors or fumes of strong chemicals can also burn or irritate the eyes, the respiratory passages, and the lungs.

A chemically burned eye becomes red and watery and may be sensitive to light. If the damage is severe, the eye will look whitish. Chemically burned skin may become red, blistered, or blackened, depending on how strong the caustic material is.

Home Treatment

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  • Immediately flush your eye or skin with water. Use a cold shower for skin burns. For eye burns, fill a sink or dishpan with water, immerse your face in the water, and open and close your eyelids with your fingers to force the water to all parts of the eye. Or flush your eye under a running faucet or shower.

  • Continue flushing for 15 to 20 minutes or until the pain stops, whichever takes longer.

When to Call a Health Professional

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Call 911 or seek emergency services if a strong chemical such as acid or lye is splashed into your eye.

Call your doctor or the local poison control centre if any one of the following occurs:

  • Major skin exposure (more than of any part of the body or on the face) to a strong acid, such as battery acid, or to a caustic substance, such as lye or Drano.

  • A chemically burned eye still hurts after 20 minutes of Home Treatment.

  • A chemically burned eye appears to be damaged. Symptoms include:

    • Persistent redness.

    • Discharge or watering.

    • Any visual impairment, such as double vision, blurring, or sensitivity to light.

    • Coloured part of the eye (iris) appears white.

  • Your skin shows signs of a chemical burn ( A chemically burned eye becomes red and watery and may be sensitive to light. If the damage is severe, the eye will look whitish. Chemically burned skin may become red, blistered, or blackened, depending on how strong the caustic material is.).

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