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Medical Chemical Burns

  1. Nov 16, 2009 #1


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    I recently got a series of H2SO4 burns on my arms in the lab because I had dripped some of the acid on the table and it got on my arm. I was also working with some AuCl3 solution as well. In the end I felt my arm burning so I washed it off and kept working. One of the place that got burned, swelled a bit and turned white around the center. Another place on my arm that had gotten burned looked like it had a yellow stain. (Mandelin reagent => source of concent. H2SO4) I had gloves on and later after I left the lab I saw that my finger had turned purple. The next day my finger was black and so were the places which I had burned my arms initially.

    I think the large stain on my finger is from the gold chloride leaking into the glove but I currently cannot feel anything on the spot that had turned black. (tried poking myself with a pin) I'm curious to know just how much I damaged my skin. Based on the colour I would say that my skin is nice and necrotic, correct? (as AgCl3 is caustic like AgNO3) I thought that only happened if one had a 2nd-3rd degree burn, based on what I was looking up on the internet. My finger looks fine except for the change in colour however I cannot feel much sensation in that spot...
    I do assume skin necrosis can occur on only the top layer of skin but if I cannot feel anything it would imply I damaged something below the epidermis? And if your skin does turn black it would imply that the skin is dead and that it is not just a 1st degree burn, right? Is skin supposed to turn black after an acid burn?
    (but the classification of burn type relies on depth degree damage not colour which confuses me further:confused:)

    note: no blisters or etc. on any of the burns
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 16, 2009 #2

    jim mcnamara

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    You really should see a physician. We cannot diagnose medical problems here.
    Sulfuric acid burns heal slowly and infect easily.
  4. Nov 16, 2009 #3


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    You should have seen someone with first-aid experience immediately, chemical burns should be treated by holding the affected area under running water for at least 30 minutes. This prevents the chemicals from penetrating the skin more deeply. Unlike heat-burns, where the offending source is removed immediately, chemicals stay on your skin much longer.

    The only person who can judge your burns, how minor you think they may be, is a medical doctor. Have them evaluated, this way you can prevent infection. Dead tissue is unable to mount an immune response, but it is a breeding ground for harmful bacteria.

    Best wishes!

    p.s. gloves are a first line of defense, but they are not impenetrable by chemicals! Always change gloves when you spill chemicals on them, because the chemicals will leach through.

    Thread locked, because we do not provide diagnosis: https://www.physicsforums.com/showthread.php?t=173247
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