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Advice on what to do after an acid attack

Following recent acid attacks in the capital, London Ambulance Service is sharing the following advice from its Medical Director, Dr Fenella Wrigley, on the immediate steps to take if you or someone you are with has suffered a chemical burn.

  • Remove the chemical causing the burn while protecting yourself. Wear gloves or use a towel or other suitable object.
  • Remove contaminated clothing or jewellery to prevent further burning.
  • Rinse the burn immediately with a gentle, steady stream of cool tap water over the burn for 10 or more minutes. A shower can be used if available, and mild soap can be used on skin safely. Always protect your eyes while washing acid off your skin.
  • Loosely apply a dry bandage, gauze or clean cotton clothing.
  • For minor burns (not affecting the face) take an over-the-counter pain reliever, such as paracetamol or ibuprofen.
  • For further medical advice, call NHS 111.

When to seek emergency care:

  • The person is showing signs of shock such as fainting, a pale complexion or very shallow breathing.
  • The chemical has burnt through the first layer of their skin (ie a blister has formed) and the burn covers an area more than three inches (about eight centimetres) in diameter.
  • The chemical burn goes all the way round a limb or involves the eyes, hands, feet, face, groin or buttocks, or a major joint such as the knee or elbow.