Some elements of our website may not load if you have an ad blocker turned on.

Acid Burns - Forrest Health
    Share This
    Skip to main content

    Acid Burns

    Topic Overview

    Acid products include toilet cleaners, battery acid, bleach, chemicals used in industry for crystal etching, and chemicals that are added to gas. Acid solids and liquids can cause injury, depending on the type, the strength, and the length of time the acid is in contact with the body. The damage is usually kept to the area of contact and does not usually cause damage deep in the tissue.

    When a chemical burn occurs, find out what chemical caused the burn.Call a Poison Control Center immediately for more information about how to treat the burn. When you call the Poison Control Center, have the chemical container with you, so you can read the contents label to the Poison Control staff member.

    Most chemical burns are treated first by rinsing (flushing) the chemical off your body with a large amount of cool water, but not all chemicals are treated this way. It is important to treat the burn correctly to avoid further complications.

    Chemical burns rinsed with water

    • Immediately rinse with a large amount of cool water. Rinsing within 1 minute of the burn can reduce the risk of complications.
    • Flush the area for at least 20 minutes.
      • Do not use a hard spray of water, because it can damage the burned area.
      • Have the person with the burn remove the chemical substance if he or she is able.
      • Put on gloves to protect yourself from the chemical, if you need to remove it.
    • As you flush the area, take off any clothing or jewelry that has the chemical on it.
    • If the area still has a burning sensation after 20 minutes, flush the area again with flowing water for 10 to 15 minutes.

    Hydrofluoric acid is flushed with a large amount of water and treated with calcium gluconate. You need immediate medical care.

    Chemical burns not rinsed with water

    Some acid burns are made worse if rinsed (flushed) with water.

    • Carbolic acid or phenol does not mix with water, so use alcohol first to flush the chemical off the skin and then flush with water. If alcohol is not available, flush with a large amount of water. Do not flush the eye with alcohol.
    • Sulfuric acid is flushed with a mild, soapy solution if the burns are not severe. Sulfuric acid feels hot when water is added to the acid, but it is better to flush the area and not leave the acid on the skin.
    • Metal compounds are covered with mineral oil.

    The most important first aid for a chemical in the eye is to immediately flush the substance out with large amounts of water to reduce the chance of serious eye damage. For any chemical burn to the eye, see the topic Burns to the Eye.

    Credits

    Current as of: June 26, 2019

    Author: Healthwise Staff
    Medical Review: William H. Blahd Jr. MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
    Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
    Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
    H. Michael O'Connor MD - Emergency Medicine
    Martin J. Gabica MD - Family Medicine


    Related Services

    Related Locations


    Notice of Privacy Practices · PUBLIC RECORDS REQUEST · FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE · NON-DISCRIMINATION NOTICE

    REQUEST FROM LAW ENFORCEMENT FOR RELEASE OF PROTECTED HEALTH INFORMATION
    6051 US HIGHWAY 49, HATTIESBURG MS 39401 · 601-288-7000 · © FORREST HEALTH · ALL RIGHTS RESERVED ·

    A Board of Trustees appointed by the Forrest County Board of Supervisors is charged with the oversight of Forrest Health.  The system is completely self supporting and does not operate on local taxes.
    Forrest Health facilities are approved by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for participation in Medicare and Medicaid Programs.