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What Are Some of the Causes of Chemical Burns?

A chemical burn occurs when a person’s skin comes into direct contact with a chemical substance. Chemical burns can be caused by exposure to household cleaning products, acids, alkalis, and other chemicals. In addition, many industrial chemicals can cause chemical burns on contact. 

A chemical burn happens when a chemical reaction occurs between the chemical and the skin that damages cells in the outer layer of skin, called the epidermis. This causes blistering and swelling, which can lead to scarring over time (or death) if not treated properly.

Causes of Chemical Burns

Chemical burns are injuries that occur when chemical substances come in contact with the skin. These substances can be caustic, acidic, or alkaline, and most are capable of causing injury to the skin. Chemical burns may result from a variety of circumstances, including industrial accidents, improper use of cleaning agents, exposure to toxic gasses and fumes, and even explosions.

There are many different types of chemicals that can cause chemical burns. Some of the most common include:


Acidic substances such as sulfuric acid or hydrochloric acid can cause chemical burns when they come into contact with skin or eyes. Acids usually cause pain immediately after coming into contact with the skin or eyes, but if left untreated, they can cause permanent damage over time. The severity of an acid burn depends on the strength of the acid and how long it was in contact with the body.


This is a solvent used in nail polish remover, as well as other products like nail polish. It can cause redness, blistering and swelling if it comes in contact with skin.


This can be found in household cleaners such as window cleaner and bathroom cleaners. Ammonia can cause painful burns to the skin and may result in scarring.


Benzene is used to make gasoline and rubber products and is found in some glues, dyes and plastics. Benzene exposure leads to symptoms such as headaches, nausea and vomiting.

Carbon tetrachloride

Carbon tetrachloride is an industrial solvent that’s used to make refrigerants, insecticides, and cleaning fluids. It can cause a variety of symptoms including dizziness, confusion, memory loss, respiratory problems, or damage to the liver or kidneys if ingested or inhaled over time.

Categories of Chemical Burns

Chemical burns can range from mild to severe. They are typically classified into three categories:

Irritant Burn

An irritant burn is the least severe type of chemical burn and results from exposure to an irritating substance that causes no permanent damage or scarring. Irritant burns may appear red or pink in color and may be painful and itchy for a few days after exposure. Examples of irritant burns include mild corrosive acids (such as vinegar or lemon juice) and strong alkalis (such as lye).

If you have been injured by a chemical burn, you should consult with an experienced personal injury lawyer who can help you determine whether your injuries are significant enough to warrant legal action against the responsible party.

Superficial Dermal Burn

superficial dermal burn occurs when a mildly corrosive chemical comes into contact with the top layer of skin (the epidermis). Superficial dermal burns usually heal without treatment within a few days. The surface of the skin may become red and slightly swollen, but there are no blisters.

A superficial dermal burn can cause pain and discomfort. Examples of mild corrosive chemicals include lye (sodium hydroxide), acids such as sulfuric acid and hydrochloric acid, and bleach (sodium hypochlorite). or weeks. The skin may be red, itchy, and dry at first, but it will usually return to normal within a few days. 

Superficial dermal burns often cause pain that can last several days or weeks. These burns rarely require treatment with antibiotics or scarring. Examples of superficial dermal burns include mild acids (such as vinegar) and alkali metals such as sodium and potassium hydroxide (lye).

Deep Tissue Burn

A deep tissue burn results from prolonged contact with a strongly corrosive chemical that damages deeper layers of the skin. Deep tissue burns often cause swelling, blistering, and pain lasting several days or weeks. These burns may require antibiotics to prevent infections. Deep tissue burns can also cause scarring. Examples of deep tissue burns include strong acids (such as muriatic acid) and alkali metals such as sodium and potassium hydroxide (lye).

The severity of a chemical burn depends on the strength of the acid or base and how long it was in contact with your skin. Stronger acids cause more damage than weaker acids. Also, certain types of acids can cause deeper burns than others, such as when hydrofluoric acid comes in contact with calcium deposits in your bones (bone dissolves).

How the Severity of Chemical Burns Is Determined

The severity of a chemical burn depends on the type of chemical that causes it and how much of the chemical comes into contact with your skin. It also depends on how long you were exposed to the chemical before washing off any residue left on your skin after exposure.

A number of factors contribute to severity:

  • The type of chemical that caused the burn
  • How long you were exposed to the chemical before washing off any residue left on your skin after exposure
  • Whether or not there was any protective gear used when handling chemicals at work (such as gloves)
  • How much time passed between exposure and washing off any residue left on your skin after exposure

How Do I Know if I Have a Chemical Burn?

The symptoms of a chemical burn include blisters, redness, or swelling of the skin around the area where contact was made with the product containing the chemical agent. If you experience these symptoms after coming into contact with one of these substances, it is important that you seek medical attention immediately so that any further damage can be prevented or treated appropriately before it becomes permanent damage.

What you need to remember is that chemical burns are a great risk and anything you can do to avoid them will be helpful. Avoiding many of the causes discussed above may not seem like it’ll have much of an impact on your life, but when seen in numbers across thousands of people, the importance is clear. Always wear protective clothing for any chemical you are using and make sure that you’re cautious about any kind of heat source that could accidentally cause a reaction.

Talk to a Lawyer About Your Chemical Burn Injury

Injuries from chemical exposure or ingestion can have lifelong consequences for both children and adults. If you or someone you know has been injured by chemicals at work or in the home, it is important to seek legal help as soon as possible. A Texas burn injuries lawyer can investigate your claim and determine who is liable for damages.