Is bleach and ammonia painful

Chemical burn

Brief overview: chemical burns

  • What does chemical burn mean? Injury to the skin or mucous membrane from corrosive substances such as acids, alkalis or other chemicals (e.g. drain cleaner).
  • What to do in case of chemical burns? Call an emergency doctor, put on protective gloves, dilute the corrosive substance in or on the skin / mucous membrane (e.g. drink water in sips if an corrosive substance is swallowed; in the event of skin contact, rinse the skin under running water), cover burned areas of skin or eyes with sterile cover; Calm down those affected and, if necessary, bring them into shock
  • Risk of chemical burns: Depending on the extent and location of the burn, e.g. blindness or damage to the mucous membranes in the esophagus and stomach
  • When to the doctor Every chemical burn should be treated by a doctor as soon as possible.


  • A chemical burn is always an acute emergency that can be life-threatening. Always call the emergency doctor as soon as possible!
  • Always protect yourself first before helping a patient with chemical burns.
  • If possible, wear special protective gloves that can withstand the corrosive substance. The disposable gloves from the first aid kit are not suitable for this.
  • Never make a person who has swallowed a corrosive substance vomit! Otherwise, the substance would pass the esophagus and throat a second time, causing further damage.

Chemical burn: what to do?

Depending on which area of ​​the body is affected, there are different first aid measures in the event of a chemical burn. However, some things always apply:

  • Call the emergency doctor immediately in the event of a burn!
  • If available: For your own protection, put on special gloves that can withstand corrosive substances.
  • Calm the person down as much as possible.

First aid for internal burns

If a corrosive substance gets into the body through the mouth, it can be very dangerous for the person concerned - depending on how much of the substance has been ingested. How to provide first aid for internal burns:

  • Try to dilute the corrosive substance that has gotten into the digestive tract. That is, make the person concerned drink tap water in small sips.
  • If the person concerned shows signs of shock (e.g. pale skin, freezing / trembling, cold sweat), place them in the shock position (lie flat on their back, legs raised).
  • If possible, give the emergency services the container with the corrosive substance. If the attending physician knows what caused the chemical burn, he or she can adjust the treatment if necessary.

First aid for burns to the eyes

Splashes from cleaning agents, as well as lime dust (previously used as marking on sports fields), can cause chemical burns in the eyes. Then you should act quickly as a first aider, otherwise there is a risk of blindness.

So go at Burns to eyes from liquids in front:

  • Lay the victim flat on their back.
  • Turn the person's head to one side so that the burned eye is at the bottom (near the floor).
  • Flush the eye with water for at least 15 minutes or until the ambulance arrives. To do this, pour water from a height of about ten centimeters into the inner corner of the eye of the affected eye or let the water flow from the bridge of the nose towards the eye / floor. This is important so that it rinses the entire eyeball and does not catch the healthy eye.
  • If the emergency doctor has not yet arrived after rinsing: Bandage the burned eye with a sterile compress.

Does anyone caustic lime get in your eye, do not rinse it with water! This would intensify the chemical burn and lead to corneal opacity and blindness. Instead, just put a sterile compress on the eye and wait for the ambulance. This then takes over the further treatment.

First aid for burns to the skin

The more delicate the area of ​​skin that has come into contact with a corrosive substance, the more severe the wound will be and the higher the risk of scarring. As a first responder, act immediately:

  • Carefully remove all wetted clothing.
  • Rinse the affected skin area for at least 15 minutes under running water or - if there is no tap nearby - with constantly fresh water from a bucket or similar.
  • If water cannot be found, carefully dab off the corrosive substance with a swab (e.g. cellulose gauze compress from the first aid kit). Use each swab only once!
  • After rinsing, you should bandage the affected area of ​​skin in a sterile manner.

Do not apply ointments, powders or the like to the affected area if the skin is burned. This can make the open wound worse! Stay away from oil or flour, even if it is sometimes recommended as a home remedy if the skin is burned!

Chemical burns: risks

The health risks of chemical burns depend on several factors: Which corrosive substance is it? How much is she focused? How much of it did the person concerned “get”? How long could the corrosive substance act on the skin or mucous membranes? Which part of the body is affected?

Consequences of an internal chemical burn

In any case, a chemical burn prepares the person concerned severe pain. In the case of chemical burns in the mouth, esophagus and gastrointestinal area, they are noticeable in the throat, behind the breastbone and down into the stomach. To be added profuse salivation and possibly Vomit. When the throat swells up as a result of the chemical burn, it arises Shortness of breath a.

Further consequences and risks of internal chemical burns:

  • Mucosal bleeding often occurs. In addition, plaque and ulcers can form on the mucous membrane.
  • If the corrosive substance gets into the muscle layer of the esophagus wall, it can destroy the tissue there (necrosis) and cause water deposits in the tissue (edema) and inflammation.
  • Chemical burns can cause scarring on the walls of the esophagus and stomach. The scarring can cause the esophagus to become so narrow (stricture) that it is difficult for the person affected to swallow. Such a narrowing often only develops a few weeks after the chemical burn.
  • Chemical burns can also “burn” holes in the wall of the esophagus and stomach (perforation). If saliva and food escape into the chest or abdomen through this, inflammation and infections can result (e.g. inflammation of the middle membrane = mediastinitis, peritonitis = peritonitis).

People with damaged or scarred esophagus are at increased risk of esophageal cancer.

Consequences of chemical burns to the eyes

The eyes are very sensitive. If they come into contact with corrosive substances, they react with severe pain. The patient reflexively pinches the eyelids against the pain. The eyes are watering profusely. In addition, acute visual disturbances up to blindness can occur.

Consequences of chemical burns to the skin

Acids and alkalis have different effects on the skin: acids cause the cell proteins to clot and clump on the surface - the tissue dies (Coagulation necrosis). This process usually prevents the acid from penetrating deeper tissues.

A lye on the other hand liquefies the tissue (Colliquational necrosis) and can thus penetrate deep into the tissue. It can therefore cause more serious damage than an acid.

Overall, chemical burns to the skin are classified as follows, depending on the severity:

  • Severity 1: The skin turns red, swells and hurts.
  • Severity 2: Cracks and blisters form in the top layer of the skin. The affected person may also bleed.
  • Severity 3: The corrosive substance destroys the skin so badly that it does not heal well. Deep wounds develop that can become infected.

In the case of extensive skin burns, the person affected may lose a lot of fluid: A lot of fluid flows into the damaged tissue from the bloodstream, causing it to swell (edema formation). At the same time, the blood volume decreases, which can ultimately lead to shock (hypovolemic shock).

If corrosive substances get into the body through the skin, internal tissues and organs can be damaged.

Chemical burns: when to see a doctor?

Every chemical burn is an acute emergency that can be life-threatening. You should therefore go to the doctor with the person concerned as quickly as possible or call the emergency services immediately. The sooner the doctor takes care of a chemical burn, the higher the chance that he can save the burned tissue.

Chemical burns: check with a doctor

First, the doctor asks the patient (or the first aider) what burns them with. He then examines the affected area of ​​the body to assess the extent of the burn. Further examinations can be made as required.

For example, the doctor can perform a so-called endoscopy on patients who have swallowed a corrosive substance. He carefully pushes a thin tube with a tiny camera at the tip (endoscope) over the mouth and esophagus into the patient's stomach. So he can look directly at the damage to the mucous membrane.

Chemical burns: treatment by the doctor

The treatment of chemical burns depends on which area of ​​the body was damaged and how much. As the first aider should do, the doctor will usually first try to dilute the corrosive substance on the skin or mucous membrane. In addition to water, he can also use special rinsing solutions.

After rinsing, the doctor will treat the wounds properly. Lighter skin burns are often bandaged in a sterile manner. Surgical intervention may be necessary for more severe burns to the skin and mucous membranes. For example, the doctor can cut away dead tissue to aid wound healing.

If lime (cement) gets into the eye - as mentioned above - the eye must not be rinsed with water. Instead, the doctor must manually remove any fragments and granules from the cornea. The patient is usually given a local anesthetic beforehand.

The doctor can give pain medication for severe pain. Other medication may be needed, such as anti-inflammatory cortisone. If the patient shows signs of volume-depleted shock, they will be given an IV. You can quickly make up for the fluid deficit.

Prevent chemical burns

The best way to prevent chemical burns is with attention and caution:

  • Keep cleaning agents out of the reach of children, preferably in a locked cupboard.
  • Do not pour corrosive substances into other containers (e.g. empty beverage bottles). If this is unavoidable for any reason, label the container in a large and clear manner!
  • When handling corrosive substances, you should concentrate and be careful not to allow yourself to be distracted.
  • When handling chemicals (e.g. at the workplace), always adhere to the relevant protective regulations in order to avoid chemical burns.

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