If you get a chemical burn, or if you are helping someone with a chemical burn, you should first quickly and gently remove the chemical from the skin. This might involve brushing away a powder with a towel. It should always include drenching the area with fresh water. You should keep flushing the skin with water for a full 15 minutes.
While you are rinsing the skin, be very careful not to contaminate new areas (on yourself or on the victim). Do not rub the skin to remove a chemical. Avoid any kind of pressure or friction. Remove jewelry and clothing from the area in contact with the chemical so that these items will not continue to cause exposure to the substance.
Once you have rinsed the burn, contact your local poison control center. (If you do not know the phone number for your local poison control center, you can usually get that information by calling 911.) It helps if you can identify the chemical that has caused the burn. The poison control center may have some specific instructions for you depending on the substance involved.
It is appropriate to place a cool wet towel on a new chemical burn to help lessen pain. Once initial pain has eased, you should apply a dry sterile gauze bandage loosely. You should not touch a blister if one forms. A ruptured blister is more likely to develop an infection. And the more sensitive layers of skin beneath the blisters covering could become exposed to the chemical irritant.
If the burn is large or if blisters form, it is best for a doctor to examine it. In some cases, your doctor may recommend a dressing that has antibacterial properties. To find out more about what burns require a visit to the doctor, check out our general advice on burns.