Chemical induced second degree burns occur when the skin is exposed to a caustic substance. The chemical could be either acidic or alkaline in nature. Corrosive chemicals often cause second degree burns. Depending on the chemical that made contact with the skin, the symptoms may vary, but generally there might be itching or burning sensations. There may be darkening or bleaching of the skin. Chemical burns can go much deeper than second degree burns. Symptoms could also include dizziness, headache, nausea and vomiting. There could be hives and wheels coming up on the skin. Second degree burns are often accompanied by blisters. If blisters do occur, never try to break them for risk of infection.
People that work in chemical labs are always at risk of burn injuries; they are needed to wear protective gear such as goggles, gloves and often a lab jacket is needed to protect the lab worker from first and second degree burns. Burns caused by a caustic chemical often causes tissue necrosis (death); this is why flushing of the area is so important at the time of exposure. Adequate flushing with running water can make the difference between a first and second degree burns. Flushing can also stop the corrosion from causing third degree burns.
Not only the lab worker is susceptible to chemical burns; many of our household products are dangerous chemicals that can cause burns. Paren’ts with small children need to make their cabinets inaccessible to their children. Babies and small children like to play in cabinets. Every year children have been injured by caustic chemicals kept under the sink in our cabinets that resulted in second degree burns or worse.
If chemical contact has occurred to the eyes or skin the first response is to flush the area with running water for at least 15 minutes to prevent serious burn injury. All burns of a chemical nature need to be taken seriously and followed up with emergency care. Chemical burns are usually very painful; but the burning may or may not be immediately noticeable. The second degree burn caused by chemical contact needs no source of heat as does a thermal injury. After rinsing the area should be covered with a cool wet cloth to help relieve the pain. Never use an ice pack on a burn, this could cause tissue injury.
You can also receive second degree burns on the inside by inhaling caustic substances. Never mix chemicals; many household products contain volatile chemicals when mixed. If you use chlorine bleach, you will see a warning not to mix with any other product. Products containing ammonia used in conjunction with chlorine bleach may give off caustic fumes, that when inhaled may cause second degree burns of the mucous membranes of your respiratory tract.
Always follow directions when using any kind of chemical. Whether you work with chemicals every day or not, use caution. If you do become exposed to a chemical follow the first aid procedures to eliminate the chemical contact with the skin through flushing. Wrap the area if possible with sterile bandages or clean cloths. Dial 911 for emergency help if indicated.