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Worsening factors of the chemical burn

So, chemical burns result from the chemical reaction between a corrosive or irritant molecule and one or several biochemical constituents of the skin or the eye.

The severity of chemical burns mainly depends on 3 factors

The nature and concentration of the chemical product in presence

It may react with the human body through different kinds of reactions: acid or basic reaction, oxido-reduction… A product is harmful when its concentration is higher than 0.2N.

The energy involved

This energy depends on the intrinsic properties of the chemical (pKa, pKb, redox potential…).

The time of exposure

The contact surface and the initial conditions of the tissues (healthy or already damaged) are important too.


The severity of chemical burns is also linked to physical factors such as pressure and temperature, the body area in contact with the chemical, the extent of the damage and the condition of the damaged tissues, whether they are or are not healthy.
The effectiveness of the management of the emergent decontamination and of the primary care determines the onset and development of a chemical burn and, as a result, the extent of the sequelae. (1)

(1) Mathieu L, Burgher F, Blomet J. Comparative evaluation of the active eye and skin chemical splash decontamination solutions Diphoterine® with water and other rinsing solutions: Effects on burn severity and healing [Comparaison des solutions actives de décontamination des projections chimiques Diphotérine® avec l’eau et d’autres solutions de lavage : impacts sur la sévérité des brûlures et la cicatrisation]. Journal Chemical Health And Safety, 2007, 14, N°4, 32-39