How to care for a hydrofluoric acid burn

Hydrofluoric acid burn can be deadly since it can burn through glass. Most hydrofluoric acid burns usually happens in the fingers, hand and eyes where the acid accidentally comes in direct contact with the skin or eyes. It causes major damage to the tissues of skin since it can penetrate the skin and cause further injury under the skin.

Hydrofluoric acid can cause severe irritation and pain in the eyes. It can also cause clouding of the eyes which can become permanent and cause other visual defects of the eyes.

Three categories of hydrofluoric acid burn

  • A grade 1 burn appears as a white burn mark and surrounded by redness that is painful.
  • Grade 2 burn appears as a white burn mark, surrounded with redness that is painful, edema and blisters which is the leakage of fluids outside of the injured cellular tissue.
    Hydrofluoric acid burn

    A grade 1 burn appears as a white burn mark and surrounded by redness that is painful.

  • Grade 3 burns are similar with a grade 2 burn, only there is bistering and necrosis of the cell tissues.


  • Remove any contaminated clothing immediately. Use gloves, mask and wear gowns in removing clothing from the body of the affected person.
  • Flush the burned areas of the body under a shower or a hose for at least 15 minutes or more. The constant flow of water on the affected area should not be cold but cool enough to relieve the burn.
  • Start soaking the areas in .13% benzalkonium chloride solution mixed with ice cubes. Another option is soaking the towel in the solution and compress the burned area and changed it every 2-4 minutes.
  • After flushing the wound, apply calcium gluconate on the area and massage gently around the burn for at least 20 minutes. Another alternative is to apply magnesium hydroxide which has antacids.
  • Flush the affected eye or eyes with large amount of cool, running water for at least 30 minutes to flush out the acid and prevent further damage to the eyes. Keep the eyelids away from the eyeballs while washing.
  • Apply an ice pack on the affected eye or eyes to lessen the effects of hydrofluoric acid and lessen the pain. Avoid applying the pack directly on the eyes to prevent frostbite.
  • Remove contact lenses from the eye if there is any.
  • Irrigate the eyes using 1% calcium gluconate solution. Place calcium gluconate in a syringe and irrigate the eye to lessen the pain and symptoms.
  • Apply the prescribed eye medication such as 0.5% tetracaine hydrochloride. Apply 1-2 drops on the eye.



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