Whether you work with concrete regularly or are new to the material as part of a driveway or other paving project, it’s possible to have a skin reaction without the proper precautions. Known as a concrete burn, the reaction worsens if the material is not immediately removed from the skin. Here, learn what causes these burns and how to treat them to avoid serious blistering, bleeding, inflammation, and pain.
What Are Concrete Burns?
How They Happen
When dry concrete is mixed with water, the material transforms into calcium oxide. The result is a highly-alkaline substance with a pH level of 12-13 compared to the human skin’s mildly-acidic pH of about 5.5. Alkalinity causes third- or fourth-degree burns on acidic skin when it dries, a problem partially caused by the curing process. The material requires moisture absorption to harden, meaning your skin will dry out along with it. Blistered, swollen, bleeding skin can scar or require grafts without immediate treatment. Depending on the degree of the burn, wet concrete can even injure the skin’s underlying fatty tissue layer and bone. Burns typically occur on the hands, arms, and legs.
What to Do If You Experience One
If you get wet concrete on your skin and clothes, remove what you’re wearing and wash the affected area with a pH-neutral cleanser, such as citrus juice or distilled white vinegar, and cool water. Repeat this process for 20 minutes until all residue has been rinsed away. The acid content in the cleanser will neutralize the alkalinity.
Soothe burned skin with pure aloe vera gel or pulp from the plant. Refrain from using commercial moisturizers, lanolins, or lotions that keep the irritant bound to the skin. If you have a serious burn or the problem worsens, seek medical treatment for corticosteroids and possibly antibiotics to avoid infection. Wear protective clothing to prevent burns in the future, as well as eyewear and rubber boots.
Builder’s Concrete East delivers ready-mix concrete to commercial and residential customers throughout Windham County, CT. One of the state’s top suppliers for over 50 years, these certified producers guarantee quality products and reliable deliveries. Call (860) 456-4111 to request a quote. Visit their website for product information.