Topic Progress:

Topic Two: Chemical Burns

Chemical burns are caused by spillage of strong acids or alkalis or other corrosive substances. These injuries mainly occur within industry, although they can also result from products found in the home. There are serious effects of absorption of chemical products from the skin.

Chemical burns are caused by:

  • Acids such as sulphuric, nitric and hydrochloric.
  • Alkalis or bases such as sodium or potassium hydroxide, calcium hypochlorite, ammonia and chemicals in household cleaning agents, bleaches and cement. These tend to cause deeper burns than acids.
  • Organic products such as Bitumin

Chemical burns tend to cause deep dermal or full thickness burns as the tissues continue to be damaged until the chemical is completely removed. The burning process may continue for variable and often prolonged periods of time, e.g. up to 72 hours after the initial contact with the chemical agent. Damage to vital organs can occur if chemicals are absorbed into the blood supply. For example, mercury can cause renal failure even from a small area of local skin damage. (Wounds International, 2014; Jeschke et al., 2018)