Chemical burn: general information
Chemical burns occur when corrosive to the skin of the skin or the mucous membranes of chemicals. Signs of damage can appear immediately or only after a certain amount of time (a couple of hours, and sometimes days). The greatest danger is that even after the cessation of interaction with a chemical agent, the absorption of a substance can continue, which leads to further destruction of body tissues.
Chemical burn: degree
Depending on how long the chemical effect on the tissue lasted, what its temperature, the nature of the effect and the place of concentration, there are three degrees of damage:
- first degree - erythema (redness);
- second degree - blistering;
- third degree - tissue necrosis.
What substances cause a chemical burn?
Most often, body tissues are damaged as a result of exposure to:
- Acids (the most severe damage is a mixture of hydrochloric and nitric acids, less pronounced - acetic, hydrofluoric, sulfuric and other chemical compounds).
- Alkalis (caustic sodium, potassium and others).They, like acids, rob water of tissues, can actively enter into chemical compounds and dissolve proteins due to deep penetration into the skin integuments or mucous membranes and saponification of fats.
- Phosphorus. This is known to be a flammable element, so a chemical burn is often accompanied by a thermal burn. Some types of phosphorus are toxic and poisonous, which further aggravates the damage.
- Salts of heavy metals (silver nitrate, zinc chloride, mercuric chloride, copper sulfate). Like alkalis and acids, heavy metal salts cause tissue dehydration and protein coagulation.
- Other caustic substances (gasoline, kerosene, bitumen, some volatile oils, etc.).
Chemical burn: symptoms
If a chemical is damaged by a chemical, a person may observe the following signs:
- nausea and vomiting;
- skin changes color to pale blue or red;
- lethargy and weakness;
- dizziness or loss of consciousness;
- discomfort, swelling, blistering, itchy rash may occur in areas exposed to the chemical;
- if the substance gets into the eye area, vision loss is possible;
- abdominal pain;
- labored breathing.
How to treat a chemical burn
The first thing doctors should do is to normalize breathing and restore blood circulation. Further actions of health professionals will depend on the size of the affected area and what substance caused a chemical burn of the skin. Treatment usually begins with an intravenous pain reliever to relieve pain and nervousness. The larger the affected area, the greater the likelihood of shock.