Chlorine is a potent chemical that is in a gaseous state at room temperature, but can also be liquefied. Most consumers come in contact with chlorine at a swimming pool, because the chemical is used for its disinfecting qualities. Chlorine can irritate the skin and can burn, blister and lead to necrosis, or death, of the skin if you come in contact with high concentrations of the substance. Although a chlorine-induced burn is chemical in nature, New York State's Department of Health recommends you treat chlorine burns as thermal burns. A thermal burn is the skin damage incurred from contact with a hot object.
Shed all clothing that has come in contact with liquid chlorine and secure in a sealed plastic bag to prevent severe burning and skin damage. Not only can liquid chlorine burn your skin, but it can lead to frostbite in some cases.
Rinse the burnt area with cool water for at least five minutes. If you have not developed visible burns from the chlorine, wash with soap after rinsing. Do not use soap if your skin has reddened, blistered or turned white in colour. Use a basin to soak the burn if a constant stream of running water is not available.
Apply a loose, lint-free gauze bandage to the chemical burn. The gauze will not stick to your skin and the air circulation between the burn and the bandage will promote healing.
Treat your pain with over-the-counter pain relievers. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as acetaminophen, naproxen and ibuprofen are appropriate for most people to take without problems.
If extended exposure to chlorine has resulted in third-degree burns that are white, charred black in colour or more than 3 inches in diameter, do not attempt to treat your condition at home. Seek medical attention immediately.
Tips and warnings
- If extended exposure to chlorine has resulted in third-degree burns that are white, charred black in colour or more than 3 inches in diameter, do not attempt to treat your condition at home. Seek medical attention immediately.