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Chemical burn to the skin: a systematic review of first aid impacts on clinical outcomes


Chai, H and Chaudhari, N and Kornhaber, R and Cuttle, L and Fear, M and Wood, F and Martin, L, Chemical burn to the skin: a systematic review of first aid impacts on clinical outcomes, Burns, 48, (7) pp. 1527-1543. ISSN 0305-4179 (2022) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

Crown Copyright 2022 Published by Elsevier Ltd

DOI: doi:10.1016/j.burns.2022.05.006


Chemical burns can cause deep injury and subsequently significant scarring to the skin. The mechanism and pathophysiology of chemical burns is distinct to thermal burns, and recommended first aid approaches are consequently different. Twenty minutes of cool running water is an effective first aid measure to improve outcomes after thermal burn. For chemical burns to the skin, the recommendations are immediate water lavage for 60 min, removal of contaminated clothing if not stuck to the skin and then covering the wound with a sterile dressing. This review assesses the peer-reviewed literature to find the evidence behind the efficacy of cutaneous chemical burn first aid on short term outcomes such as length of hospital stay, depth of burn and longer-term outcomes such as scarring; in particular, the effect of immediate or early water lavage, and the effect of the duration of water lavage. Ocular chemical burns were not included in this review. The review suggests there is some evidence to support that the early application of cool water irrigation may reduce length of hospital stay and the extent of scarring. Community education should emphasize that water irrigation is recommended and that the earlier this happens, the better.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:burns, chemical first aid outcomes, therapeutic irrigation
Research Division:Biomedical and Clinical Sciences
Research Group:Clinical sciences
Research Field:Surgery
Objective Division:Health
Objective Group:Provision of health and support services
Objective Field:Urgent and critical care, and emergency medicine
UTAS Author:Kornhaber, R (Dr Rachel Kornhaber)
ID Code:150113
Year Published:2022
Web of Science® Times Cited:1
Deposited By:Nursing
Deposited On:2022-05-24
Last Modified:2022-11-03

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