Chemicals continue to destroy tissue as long as they are in contact with the skin. Death from a chemical injury, although rare, can occur due to extensive burns, or the systemic toxicity of absorbed chemicals. During the secondary survey it is important to ascertain the extent of tissue damage by determining:
- The type of agent involved and how much
- Strength and concentration of the agent
- Site of contact and whether swallowed or inhaled
- Manner and duration of contact
- Mechanism of action of the chemical
Appropriate medical management includes decontamination of the burn injury (likely water irrigation) and on occasions, administration of a buffer or neutralising agent (where appropriate) to counteract the chemical.