Scientists described an unusual case of a burn in a boy who was admitted to Vanderild University Medical Center in Nashville. The child sustained chemical burns to his head and torso after cement got on his head and torso. This happened when the child’s relatives were preparing the cement mortar while he was playing nearby.
Some time after the child was soiled with cement, he felt a burning pain, the contaminated areas turned red. At the hospital, his skin was washed with an organic solvent. At Vanderild University Medical Center, doctors diagnosed superficial (first-degree) burns to the head, neck and torso.
“Fortunately, in this case, the patient was quickly cleared and no surgical treatment was required,” the authors write.
Wet cement can cause alkaline burns, so it should not remain on the skin for a long time, writes LiveScience. The main substance of which cement is composed is calcium oxide. On contact with water, it turns into a strong alkali. Its pH can be very high – up to 14.
The average time from contact of the cement with the skin to the appearance of burns is 6 hours. The study authors point out that this is why many people notice them too late. They also point out that doctors usually deal with such burns in adults. Therefore, the described case can be called very rare.
To prevent cement burns, the US National Poison Control Center recommends:
- Keep cement out of the reach of animals and children.
- Never transport cement products without manufacturer’s packaging, in unlabeled containers.
- Read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
- When working, wear appropriate protective equipment, including gloves, masks, work boots.
If the cement gets on the skin or eyes, they should be rinsed immediately with cool water for at least 15 minutes. Remove contaminated clothing.