Exposure to cement can cause burns that are not felt right away. Cement burns typically occur at work especially among construction workers and those who regularly work with wet cement. Once wet cement gets in contact with bare skin, the caustic chemicals present will cause a chemical burn that is characterized by itching, scaling and painful lesions and fissures in the skin.
If this is left untreated, these cracks or fissures can result to bacterial infections. Take note that cement burns do not manifest until a day or two after the wet cement gets in contact with the skin. This is the reason why timely treatment of cement burn after contact and before the symptoms appear can prevent skin damage.
First aid care for cement burns
When an individual sustains a cement burn, there are first aid measures that you have to perform to prevent damage to the skin.
- Initially remove all the layers of clothing that was used at the time of contact with the wet cement. The shoes must be removed even if there is no wet cement on them. All of these must be washed using hot water and clothing detergent before they will be used again. Discard the shoes and other accessories that could not be thoroughly washed.
- You have to prepare a lukewarm bath that is mixed with a cup of white or cider vinegar. The exposed skin must be immersed in the bath for 20-30 minutes. This will help neutralize the chemicals present in the skin while at the same time minimizing the damage caused by the cement burn.
- Rinse the exposed skin with warm running water for 20-25 minutes. In case the eyes were exposed, you have to flush it with water for 30 minutes. You can use an eye-wash machine if possible. If not, you can put the individual under a shower.
- Monitor the condition carefully for the next few days. Once the condition of the affected area worsens, you have to apply aloe vera gel in order to soothe the skin as well as minimize the itchiness. Soaps and skin lotions that contain petroleum will only prevent the toxic chemicals from leaving the body as well as worsening the condition.
- The sores and fissures on the skin must be cleaned using an antiseptic solution on a daily basis to eliminate germs and prevent infection. Take note that this is painful but a vital part of the treatment.
You have to consult a doctor for assistance if the condition continues to worsen after the next day. The doctor can explain the available medical options.
Important considerations to bear in mind
It is also recommended to use salt or vinegar baths in order to soothe the skin. Based on studies conducted, most cases of cement burns typically heal within six months. In severe cases, cement burns can progress to blindness, lasting skin damage and even limb amputation.