Method 1 :Treating Skin Contact
Recognize the effects of hydrofluoric acid. Hydrofluoric acid (HF) contact with skin can cause severe chemical burns. Direct contact with HF can cause major damage to your skin tissue, as HF is a corrosive substance that burns. It can also penetrate the skin and cause even further damage under the skin.
- This can be even worse, depending on the concentration of the acid and the length of exposure.
- No matter the concentration, however, the burns may cause a deeper penetration of the underlying skin tissue after a longer time of detection. Any increased time can allow for a burn to become more severe.
Distinguish the categories of burn.
There are 3 categories of HF burns. A burn that is grade 1 appears with white burn mark and has surrounding painful redness along the skin.
- A burn that is grade 2 appears with a white burn mark and surrounding painful redness, but also demonstrates blistering and edema, which is leakage of intra-cellular fluids outside of damaged cellular tissue.
- A burn that is grade 3 appears in the same way as grade 2, with the addition of blistering, and necrosis, which is cell tissue death.
- Cell tissue death is seen as discolored blue or black tissue around the burn.
Remove all contaminated clothing immediately.
If there is any part of your clothing that has been saturated with HF, remove it immediately from your body or any portion of your skin. This will prevent more acid from touching the skin, as well as stop continued exposure that may cause more serious burning.
- Make sure that the clothing comes into contact with as little skin as possible as it is removed. Do not touch clothing directly with bare skin if you believe it has also been contaminated with HF.
- Use gloves, masks, and gowns, if possible.
Flush the burned area. If you come into contact with HF, flush the burned area under a safety shower or suitable hose. Orient the burned area so that water runs down and off your skin. Make sure that the water coming into contact with the affected area does not come into contact with any other part of your body.
- This constant flow of cool water should not overly cold but cool enough to soothe the burn.
- Continue flushing the area for fifteen or more minutes.
Have another person call for medical assistance. HF burns are very serious and can lead to many systemic issues and even death. You need to get help as soon as possible because HF burns require expert medical attention regardless of how you feel or what you believe is necessary. Have someone else call for you while you deal with preventing continued exposure to the acid.
- Seek medical attention as soon as possible from the time of exposure to reduce the time the acid can continue to linger and cause damage.
Treat the wound after flushing it. You can do a few things after flushing your burn. Massage a generous amount of calcium gluconate gel into and around the burn. Keep applying gel for at least twenty minutes. This should be the first line of care if available after extensive rinsing with water.
- You can also use hexafluorine, which is a chemical compound that has also been used extensively for HF burns. However, some studies have not found it to be any more effective in reducing electrolyte disturbances than proper rinsing with water.
- Magnesium hydroxide-containing antacids can also be used with some benefit if calcium gluconate is not available. Look for common antacid brands such as Mylanta.
Get treated. Seeking medical care from professionals will help assess long-term side effects of the burn. The goal of treatment is reduce the effects of HF burns while simultaneously controlling the pain from exposure. Prior to discharge, your doctor will assess your electrolyte balances with a blood test, test for any heart palpitations and arrhythmias, and review your Echocardiogram (ECG) to make sure it is normal.
- Your doctor may continue with similar tests during follow-up to make sure that long-term symptoms do not develop after you have been discharged.
- If exposure to HF is only on the fingers, you will likely be discharged with calcium gluconate gel and instructed to wear a latex glove after applying the gel. This will help to maximize the efficacy of the gel by increasing absorption.
- Your doctor should follow-up with you at least once after 24 hours from the time you are discharged. This follow-up may be in person or over the telephone, depending on the severity of your exposure and the doctor’s judgment.
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