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Chemical in Eye

Most chemicals just cause temporary stinging and irritation (for example, alcohol or hydrocarbons such as those in hairsprays are safe). However, acids and alkalis splashed into the eye can severely damage the cornea (clear part of the eye). All should be treated as emergencies until your health care provider or a Poison Control Center expert tells you otherwise.

First Aid

Immediate and thorough flooding of the eye with tap water is needed to prevent damage to the cornea. Do this as quickly as possible. Either hold your child's face up under a gently running water tap or have your child lie down and continuously pour lukewarm water into the eye from a pitcher or glass. It is very important to hold the eyelids open during this process. For most chemicals, the eye should be flushed for 5 minutes. However, it should be flushed for 10 minutes for acids and 20 minutes for alkalis. Call your child's provider IMMEDIATELY after flushing the eye with water.

* Always use water. Do not use antidotes such as vinegar.

Written by B.D. Schmitt, M.D., author of "Your Child's Health," Bantam Books.
Published by McKesson Provider Technologies.
Last modified: 2006-02-23
Last reviewed: 2006-02-23
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
Copyright 2006 McKesson Corporation and/or one of its subsidiaries. All Rights Reserved.
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