Acid Burn

Hydrofluoric (HF) acid, one of the strongest inorganic acids, is used mainly for industrial purposes (eg, glass etching, metal cleaning, electronics manufacturing). Hydrofluoric acid also may be found in home rust removers.


Treatment for hydrofluoric acid burns includes basic life support and appropriate decontamination, followed by neutralization of the acid by use of calcium gluconate. If exposure occurs at an industrial site, obtain and transport any available treatment literature.

    Assess and manage acute life threatening conditions in the usual manner. Emergency Medical Services (EMS) personnel should use gloves, masks, and gowns, if necessary.
    Remove soiled clothing. Initially decontaminate by irrigation with copious amounts of water.
    Ice packs on the affected area may alleviate symptoms by retarding diffusion of the ion.
    If calcium gluconate gel is available, apply liberally to the affected area.
    For digital burns, if calcium gluconate gel is not available, the fingers may be soaked in magnesium hydroxide–containing antacid preparations (eg, Mylanta) en route to a medical facility. Retain gel/antacid in a latex glove if practicable, and the gloved hand may be immersed in iced water.
    Treat inhalation injuries with oxygen and 2.5% calcium gluconate nebulizer.
    Transport the patient to the nearest appropriate medical facility.

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