Mayo Clinic Health Library Article

 Back to Health Library
Chemical burns

Chemical burns

How to administer first aid for a chemical burn.

If a chemical burns the skin, follow these steps:

  1. Remove the cause of the burn by first brushing any remaining dry chemical and then rinsing the chemical off the skin surface with cool, gently running water for 10 to 20 minutes or more.
  2. Remove clothing or jewelry that has been contaminated by the chemical.
  3. Wrap the burned area loosely with a dry, sterile dressing (if available) or a clean cloth.
  4. Rewash the burned area for several more minutes if the person experiences increased burning after the initial washing.
  5. Take an over-the-counter pain reliever if needed for pain. These include aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, others), naproxen (Aleve) or acetaminophen (Tylenol, others). Use caution when giving aspirin to children or teenagers. Though aspirin is approved for use in children older than age 2, children and teenagers recovering from chickenpox or flu-like symptoms should never take aspirin. Talk to your doctor if you have concerns.

Get a tetanus shot. All burns are susceptible to tetanus. Doctors recommend you get a tetanus shot every 10 years. If your last shot was more than five years ago, your doctor may recommend a tetanus shot booster.

Minor chemical burns usually heal without further treatment.

Seek emergency medical assistance if:

  • The person shows signs of shock, such as fainting, pale complexion or breathing in a notably shallow manner
  • The chemical burn penetrated through the first layer of skin, and the resulting second-degree burn covers an area more than 3 inches (7.6 centimeters) in diameter
  • The chemical burn occurred on the eye, hands, feet, face, groin or buttocks, or over a major joint
  • The person has pain that cannot be controlled with over-the-counter pain relievers

If you're unsure whether a substance is toxic, call the poison control center at 800-222-1222. If you seek emergency assistance, take the chemical container or a complete description of the substance with you for identification.

<p> If a chemical burns the skin: </p> <ol> <li><strong>Remove the cause of the burn</strong> by first brushing any dry chemical and then rinsing the skin surface with cool, gently running water for 10 to 20 minutes or more. </li> <li><strong>Remove clothing or jewelry</strong> contaminated by the chemical. </li> <li><strong>Wrap the burned area loosely</strong> with a dry, sterile dressing (if available) or a clean cloth.</li> <li><strong>Rewash the burned area</strong> if the person experiences increased burning after the initial washing. </li> <li><strong>Take an over-the-counter pain reliever</strong> if needed for pain, but use caution when giving aspirin to children or teenagers. Though aspirin is approved for use in children older than age 2, children and teenagers recovering from chickenpox or flu-like symptoms should never take aspirin. Talk to your doctor if you have concerns.</li> </ol> <p> <strong>Get a tetanus shot.</strong> All burns are susceptible to tetanus. Doctors recommend you get a tetanus shot every 10 years. If your last shot was more than five years ago, your doctor may recommend a tetanus shot booster. </p> <p> Minor chemical burns usually heal without further treatment. </p> <p> <strong>Seek emergency medical assistance if:</strong> </p> <ul> <li>The person shows signs of shock &mdash; such as fainting, pale complexion, shallow breathing or uncontrollable pain</li> <li>The chemical burn penetrated the first layer of skin, and the burn is more than 3 inches (7.6 centimeters) in diameter</li> <li>The chemical burn occurred on the eye, hands, feet, face, groin or buttocks, or over a major joint</li> </ul> <p> If you're unsure whether a substance is toxic, call the poison control center at 800-222-1222. If you seek emergency assistance, take the chemical container or a complete description of the substance with you. </p> <p> If a chemical burns the skin: </p> <ol> <li><strong>Remove the cause of the burn</strong> by first brushing any dry chemical and then rinsing the skin surface with cool, gently running water for 10 to 20 minutes or more. </li> <li><strong>Remove clothing or jewelry</strong> contaminated by the chemical. </li> <li><strong>Wrap the burned area loosely</strong> with a dry, sterile dressing (if available) or a clean cloth.</li> <li><strong>Rewash the burned area</strong> if the person experiences increased burning after the initial washing. </li> <li><strong>Take an over-the-counter pain reliever</strong> if needed for pain, but use caution when giving aspirin to children or teenagers. Though aspirin is approved for use in children older than age 2, children and teenagers recovering from chickenpox or flu-like symptoms should never take aspirin. Talk to your doctor if you have concerns.</li> </ol> <p> <strong>Get a tetanus shot.</strong> All burns are susceptible to tetanus. Doctors recommend you get a tetanus shot every 10 years. If your last shot was more than five years ago, your doctor may recommend a tetanus shot booster. </p> <p> Minor chemical burns usually heal without further treatment. </p> <p> <strong>Seek emergency medical assistance if:</strong> </p> <ul> <li>The person shows signs of shock &mdash; such as fainting, pale complexion, shallow breathing or uncontrollable pain</li> <li>The chemical burn penetrated the first layer of skin, and the burn is more than 3 inches (7.6 centimeters) in diameter</li> <li>The chemical burn occurred on the eye, hands, feet, face, groin or buttocks, or over a major joint</li> </ul> <p> If you're unsure whether a substance is toxic, call the poison control center at 800-222-1222. If you seek emergency assistance, take the chemical container or a complete description of the substance with you. </p>

2012-02-03

Find a physician

or Need Help Finding a Physician

Upcoming Events

Infant Safety and CPR
Mon, Feb 19, 2018 - 06:00 PM - 08:00 PM More
Newborn Care Basics
Tue, Feb 20, 2018 - 06:00 PM - 08:00 PM More
Alzheimer's/Dementia Caregiver Support Group
Wed, Feb 21, 2018 - 10:00 AM - 12:00 PM More
View all Events >>