Chemical Burns and Eye Burns
While the general rules for the treatment of burns are the same, regardless of the type of burn, there are some additional considerations for chemical burns. The key point when dealing with chemicals is not to contaminate yourself. Chemical spills are not always obvious - some very toxic chemicals look like water - so look for signs such as a hazchem (hazardous chemical) label, empty chemical containers or guidance from bystanders. If in doubt, call the emergency services rather than approach the injured person yourself. Remember that some household substances can cause chemical burns, particularly cleaning materials such as oven cleaner.
Treating chemical burns
What if the chemical reacts with water?
Some industrial chemicals do react badly with water. Where such chemicals are used, people working with them should have been trained in the use of an antidote. If there is nobody around with this expertise, do not waste time looking for an antidote - apply liberal amounts of water to try to wash the chemical away.
Chemical burns to the eye
Chemical burns to the eye can be very serious. Early rinsing of the eye with cold water will help to flush away the chemical and reduce scarring.
Signs and symptoms of chemical burns to the eye
Flash burns to the eye
Caused by looking into very bright light, flash burns damage the surface of the cornea, the transparent front of the eyeball. Recovery can take some time and in some instances the damage can be permanent (for example, if a person has looked at the sun through a telescope without appropriate protection).
Signs and symptoms of flash burns to the eye
Where there has been any injury to the eye, encourage the injured person to leave contact lenses in place.
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