Chemical Burn of the Skin

You have been diagnosed with a chemical burn of the skin. Chemicals on the skin may cause only mild irritation and redness. Or they may cause deep tissue injury. How serious the burn is depends on:

  • What kind of chemical it was

  • How diluted it was

  • How long it was on your skin

Home care

The following guidelines will help you care for your burn once you get home:

  • You may put a towel soaked in ice water on the affected area. Do this 3 to 4 times a day to ease pain or swelling.

  • If a bandage was put on, change it every day. Watch for the warning signs of infection listed below. If the wound is open, put an antibiotic ointment on it each day to prevent infection.

  • You may use over-the-counter medicine to control pain, unless another medicine was prescribed. If you have chronic liver or kidney disease, talk with your healthcare provider before using acetaminophen, naproxen, or ibuprofen. Also talk with your provider if you've had a stomach ulcer or digestive tract bleeding.

  • You may use over-the-counter medicine for itching. Try not to scratch or pick at the wound.

  • Wear loose-fitting clothing.

  • Protect your wound from the sun.

Follow-up care

Follow up with your healthcare provider, or as advised.

When to get medical care

Call your healthcare provider right away if any of these occur:

  • Swelling, pain, or redness gets worse

  • Fluid or pus drains from the burn area

  • Fever of 100.4°F (38°C) or higher, or as advised by your provider

  • Wound doesn't heal

  • Nausea or vomiting 

  • Symptoms that are new or get worse

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