Just the other day, I was trying to remove some paint from a messed-up project when my lovely mother-in-law came in and suggested turpentine. It only occurred to me after I dipped a rag into the liquid that the question ‘is this safe for skin?’ came to mind. I’d never worked with it before so I didn’t know, but I definitely should’ve asked first.

What I was expecting to happen was a chemical burn, which I thankfully did not get. Chemical burns are caused by coming into contact with strong acidic or basic properties. Common household cleaners are prime suspects for chemical burns, so keep them stored safely and away from children and pets.

Symptoms of chemical burns are similar to regular burns: burning sensation, redness, pain, blisters, and potentially blackened skin. Severe chemical burns can cause low blood pressure, headaches, seizures, issues with the heart, and dizziness. If ingested or splashed into the eye, chemicals can cause serious problems with vision and the respiratory system.

If a chemical does manage to make skin contact, wash it off immediately. Run the area under cool water for 10 minutes. Make sure to wear gloves or use a towel to prevent more contamination. If the chemical splashes onto your clothes, remove them to minimize skin contact. Wrap the burn in a sterile bandage or cloth but try not to put pressure on the burn. Don’t be afraid to run more water over the injury if it still burns.

Always contact a medical professional for chemical burns as you may not know just how dangerous the situation may be. If you can, take the bottle for the chemical with you so the doctor knows what’s involved. Try to provide as much information as you can. They will likely tell you to keep the burn clean and us proper pain killers if the injury is minor. Major burns will require monitoring so they will likely keep you at the hospital until further notice.

Please, keep all chemical safely stored and read the labels so you know what will happen, what to do, and who to call if something goes wrong.

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