Chemical Exposure to the Skin

Your skin has been exposed to a chemical. The effects of chemicals on the skin range from mild irritation and redness to a severe burn. The seriousness of the injury depends on the type of chemical, how concentrated it was, and how long it was on your skin.

It's common to have some irritation for 24 hours after the exposure. This is the case even if the exposure was mild. If the exposure was more serious, follow up with your healthcare provider as directed.

Home care

  • You can put a cool compress on the affected area 3 to 4 times a day. You can make a cool compress by using a towel soaked in ice water. This will help reduce pain and swelling.

  • If a dressing was applied, change it every 24 hours and watch for the warning signs listed below.

  • You may use over-the-counter medicine, such as acetaminophen, naproxen, or ibuprofen, to control pain unless another pain medicine was prescribed. If you have liver disease, or if you have ever had a stomach ulcer or gastrointestinal bleeding, or if you are taking blood-thinning medicines, talk with your healthcare provider before using these pain medicines.

  • Try not to pick, scratch, or rub at your injury. This may make the injury worse or cause an infection.

Follow-up care

Follow up with your healthcare provider, or as advised.

When to seek medical advice

Call your healthcare provider right away if any of the following occur:

  • Increased swelling or pain

  • Severe blistering

  • Increasing redness

  • Fluid drainage from the skin

Call 911

Call 911 if any of these occur:

  • Trouble breathing or swallowing

  • Extreme drowsiness or trouble awakening

  • Severe confusion

  • Seizures

  • Fainting

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