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. You may use a shower or faucet instead. 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. These include sodium, potassium, magnesium, phosphorous, lithium, cesium, or titanium. Water can react with these substances to form dangerous byproducts.

  • Carefully remove any clothing with the chemical on it. Be careful not to touch unaffected skin with clothing that's being removed. Cut the clothing away, if needed.

  • If the chemical splashed into your child's eyes, start rinsing their eyes right away. Call 911. Continue rinsing until medical help arrives. 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 911 for emergency medical help. You can also call the poison control center 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: Dan Brennan MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Liora C Adler MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Tara Novick BSN MSN
Date Last Reviewed: 1/1/2023
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