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Alcohol Poisoning
Anaphylactic Shock
Back and Spinal Injury
Bleeding from the Head or Palm
Bleeding From Special Sites
Breathing Difficulties
Burns and Scalds
Chemical Burns and Eye Burns
Chest or Abdominal Wounds
Controlling Bleeding from the Mouth and Nose
Crush Injuries
Drug Poisoning
Emergency Childbirth
Extreme Cold
Extreme Heat
External Bleeding
Eye Wounds
Food Poisoning
Fractures of the Arm and Hand
Fractures, Dislocations and Soft Tissue Injuries
Fractures of the Ribcage
Fractures of the Skull Face and Jaw
Fractures of the Upper Body
Heart Problems
Injuries to the Lower Body
Injuries to the Lower Leg
Internal Bleeding
Poisoning from Household Chemicals
Poisoning from Industrial Chemicals
Sprains and Strains
Other Types of Burn
Unconscious Casualty
If You Have to Move the Casualty

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

  1. If you feel that you can safely approach the casualty, then do so carefully.
  2. If necessary, wear protective clothing to protect yourself from contamination.
  3. Ventilate the room if possible because many chemicals affect breathing.
  4. When cooling the burn with water, ensure that the contaminated water runs away from both the casualty and yourself. It may be necessary to flood the injured part for longer to ensure that the chemical is totally washed away. This may take more than 20 minutes.
  5. Call an ambulance. Make sure you have mentioned that it is a chemical burn so that additional help can be sent from the fire service if necessary and so that any antidotes can be sent with the ambulance.
  6. If possible, remove contaminated clothes from the casualty as these may keep burning, but only do this if you can do it without contaminating yourself or harming the casualty more.
  7. Cover the burn with a clean, non-fluffy material as appropriate and tie loosely in place if necessary.
  8. Treat for shock and reassure the casualty until emergency help arrives on the scene.

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

  • Known exposure to chemical
  • Intense pain
  • Redness and swelling
  • Reluctance or inability to open the eye
  • Tears from eye


  1. Protect yourself, the casualty and bystanders from further contamination.
  2. Hold the affected eye under cold running water for at least 10 minutes to flush out the chemical, allowing the injured person to blink periodically. You may need to hold the eyelid open. Make sure that the water flow is gentle. Do not allow contaminated water to fall across the good eye and so contaminate that eye also.
  3. Ask the injured person to hold a non-fluffy sterile or clean pad across the eye, tying it in place if hospital treatment may be delayed.
  4. Take or send the person to hospital with details of the chemical if possible.

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

  • Known exposure to intense light (which may have happened some time ago)
  • Intense pain
  • Feeling that there may be something in the eyes
  • Redness and watering
  • Both eyes affected


  1. Check the history to rule out chemical burns or a foreign body in the eye.
  2. Reassure the injured person, and wear gloves to prevent infecting the eye.
  3. Place pads over both eyes and bandage in place if it will be some time until medical help arrives. Remember that this will effectively blind the person temporarily so stay with her to reassure and guide.
  4. Take or send the person to hospital as she will need medical attention.

Contact lenses

Where there has been any injury to the eye, encourage the injured person to leave contact lenses in place.

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Disclaimer: website is designed for educational purposes only. It is not intended to treat, diagnose, cure, or prevent any disease. Always take the advice of professional health care for specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment. We will not be liable for any complications, or other medical accidents arising from the use of any information on this web site. Please note that medical information is constantly changing. Therefore some information may be out of date.