Chemical Burns: Early Management

  1. Home
  2. Severe Burns
  3. Chemical Burns
  4. Chemical Burns: Early Management

Specific Agents

Hydrofluoric acidAn acid and metabolic poison. Very painful. Contact with very small amounts of industrial strength acid can be fatal. Can cause arrhythmias.Irrigate with water. Treatment is designed to neutralise the fluoride ion and prevent systemic toxicity.
Neutralise with topical calcium gluconate burn gel or local injection with 10% calcium gluconate
Treatment for Injury to the eyes with HF is with copious water irrigation not calcium gluconate. Once the acute phase is over calcium gluconate can be used to the irrigate the eyes 3/24.
Cement (alkali)Cement powder penetrates clothing, combines with sweat and creates an exothermic reaction.
Acts as a dessicant and alkali.
Pain and burning sensation do not occur immediately.
Prolonged irrigation with water.
PhosphorousMore common in military, but present in fireworks and fertilizers.
White phosphorus ignites in presence of air and will continue until oxidation of the agent is complete or the oxygen source is removed.
Water irrigation
Debride visible particles
Apply 0.5% copper sulphate solution to turn particles black for easier identification and removal.
PetrolImmersion or extensive skin contact usually causes a partial thickness injuryIrrigate with water

The Alfred Hospital gratefully acknowledges the ongoing support and contribution of Skilled Medical in funding this project.  For more information on Skilled Medical, please visit
Supported by:

Ambulance Victoria The Alfred Victorian Adult Burn Services at The Alfred The Royal Children's Hospital Melbourne