Chemical burns are caused by individual agents and combinations of chemicals made of acids, bases, and hydrocarbons. The more concentrated the dangerous parts of these chemicals are, the greater potential for severe damages as a result of burn injuries. Once a chemical burn has occurred on skin contact, the effects of these chemicals will continue until the chemicals are treated with water.
When these chemicals come in contact with skin, they cause tissue damage as a result of protein coagulation. Acids, like those found in industrial strength cleaning products, are corrosive. Many people are familiar with the dangerous properties of acids but don’t realize how much acid is located in many products like rust removers and cleaning agents. Some examples of bases, which can also cause chemical burns, include lime, cement, and ammonia (another source often found in cleaning agents). Finally, hydrocarbons such as gasoline or a degreasing agent kill cells when they come into contact with skin.
The majority of chemical burns come from acids and bases. Although acids are common topics of safety discussions surrounding chemicals, bases can actually be more dangerous because of their ability to quickly penetrate skin and damage nerve endings and cells. These chemicals can also cause other physical issues like lowering of blood pressure and thus the body’s ability to pump blood. All chemical burn injuries should be treated as extremely caustic and dangerous and should be evaluated by a medical professional for their full impact on the victim.