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What happens when you suffer from chemical burns?

Chemical burns are a real problem in some workplaces. Whether you're working in a chemistry lab or teach at a local university, you could be exposed to chemicals that could leave your skin burned and damaged.

Chemical burns can be caused by some common chemicals found in schools, homes and workplaces. For example, common products that sometimes cause chemical burns include:

  • Ammonia
  • Denture cleaners
  • Chlorine
  • Bleach
  • Battery acid

What are some symptoms of chemical burns?

Symptoms of chemical burns include:

  • Irritation or redness in the affected area
  • Loss of vision if the eyes came into contact with the chemicals
  • Numbness
  • Dead or blackened skin

If swallowed, some symptoms that might occur include:

  • Headaches
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Shortness of breath
  • Seizures
  • Dizziness
  • Low blood pressure
  • Muscle twitches

If you believe that you've suffered a chemical burn or that you've ingested chemicals at work, it's important to call 911 or get to the hospital quickly. Your health care provider will then make a diagnosis based on your condition.

Chemical burns can affect the epidermis, resulting in superficial burns with a high likelihood of recovery. They can also cause burns that go into the dermis, which is a second-degree burn. Third-degree, or full-thickness burns, are when the subcutaneous tissues are involved.

Chemical burns must be treated as quickly as possible. The chemical needs to be removed from the skin or body in whatever way possible. Usually, the skin must be rinsed for 10 to 20 minutes with running water.

If you suffer a chemical burn at work, remember that your workers' compensation coverage should cover your medical care and other losses.

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