Burns: Chemical

What is a chemical burn?

Chemical burns are burns from alkalis and acids such as toilet bowl cleaners, car battery acid, drain cleaners, or other chemicals splashed on the skin. Most of these accidents cause only redness and minor burns. They usually peel like a sunburn over the following week.

How is it treated?

  • Remove contaminated clothing and brush off any dry chemicals.
  • Rinse off the exposed part of your child’s body with clear water for 20 minutes, using the shower or tub. Don’t rub the skin during this rinse.
  • Don’t put any ointment on the burn because washing it off will cause pain.
  • Cover small burns with a bandage. If the burned area is large, cover it loosely with a clean sheet or plastic wrap.

When should I call my child’s healthcare provider?

Call immediately after you have followed the first aid treatment described above. Your child may need to be checked.

Written by Barton D. Schmitt, MD, author of “My Child Is Sick,” American Academy of Pediatrics Books.
Pediatric Advisor 2015.1 published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2011-02-04
Last reviewed: 2014-06-10
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
Copyright ©1986-2015 Barton D. Schmitt, MD. All rights reserved.

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