Chemical burn injuries can occur in many different settings, but regardless of how they happen they are often very serious and can have lasting complications. Chemical burns can occur accidentally through misuse of products such as household cleaners and hair, skin, and nail care products. When the skin comes into unprotected contact with strong chemicals, a burn can result. Although the burn is different in nature than a thermal burn, the resulting injury will be treated similarly to other burns. When alkaline or acidic chemicals come into contact with the skin, second-degree and third-degree burns can result. Inhalation injuries are also common in chemical burn incidents. Household products that tend to be common sources of chemical burns include: drain cleaners; paint thinners; bleach; drain or toilet bowl cleaners; concrete mix; pool chlorinators; metal cleaners; and batteries. Although chemical burn injuries do occur at home, the greatest risk of injury is in the workplace where large quantities of dangerous chemicals are frequently used.
The most common areas affected by chemical burns are the face, eyes, arms and legs. Most chemical burns are relatively small and can be treated successful without a prolonged stay in the hospital. Be careful though, as some chemical burns can cause deep tissue damage that is not visible when you first look at it. Whether or not you have damaged the tissue depends on a number of factors including: strength or concentration of the agent; area affected; whether the chemical was swallowed or inhaled; whether the skin is intact; duration of exposure; and the nature of the chemical with which you came in contact. Only a medical provider can accurately determine whether you have suffered unseen tissue damage.
Redness, pain, burning and blisters are the most common symptoms of a contact chemical burn. Vision changes can occur if the chemical came into contact with your eyes while coughing and shortness of breath are symptoms of inhalation burns. These symptoms can generally be easily treated, but in more severe cases the patient may experience low blood pressure, dizziness, headache, seizures or even cardiac arrest. If a patient is experiencing any of the more severe symptoms, it is likely she will require hospitalization. For chemical burns that require hospitalization, a variety of treatment may be used. IV fluids may be needed to stabilize blood pressure. The wound will have to be decontaminated and antidotes or antibiotics may be given. The wound will be cleaned and bandaged with medicated creams while the burn heals.
So what can we do to protect ourselves from potential chemical burns?
1. Always read and follow label instructions on household chemicals.
2. Never mixed chemicals without consulting the manufacturer or an expert.
3. Keep household chemicals securely locked away so small children cannot come into contact with them.
4. Follow safety precautions at home and on the job.
5. If you think you may be the victim of a chemical burn, call 911 immediately. Because of the nature of these injuries it is always better to err on the side of caution.
If you have suffered a chemical burn and have any additional legal questions, do not hesitate to call the law offices of Ledger & Associates at 1-800-300-0001 or visit us at www.ledgerlaw.com