Chemical burns develop when potent, strong chemicals are used improperly and come into contact with the skin. These burns develop when dangerous, corrosive chemicals aren’t handled with proper care. Corrosive chemicals that cause burns of this nature can be found all around your house, especially in your cleaning supplies. Some people may even attempt to use these chemicals themselves to treat another medical condition like toenail fungus. Use of chemicals like these for anything other than their intended purpose is the number one reason why chemical burns form. DIY treatments for toenail fungus are normally ineffective because they lack properly researched medications and chemicals for eliminating the actual fungal spores. While these at home treatments rarely have any beneficial effects, many of them can actually be very dangerous and cause harm to the toe and nail. For example, bleach is sometimes recommended by non-medical online sites to treat toenail fungus. Using bleach to treat toenail fungus is discouraged widely by medical professionals, as it is much more likely to cause harm than to do any good for the toenail’s condition.

Chemical burns from using bleach to treat toenail fungus occur because of the chemical makeup of bleach itself. Bleach is only designed to be used for cleaning purposes, and is a corrosive and harsh chemical that will harm the body on contact. It is necessary for bleach to be this harsh of a chemical so that it is able to fulfill its job as a cleaning agent, dissolving dirt and grime on surfaces. Because the surfaces bleach is used on are resistant to damage from the chemical, it is good for the purpose it serves as a cleaning agent. It is a different story when using bleach to treat something on the human body. The human body isn’t able to withstand the intense power that comes with bleach. Bleach is a very basic chemical, and will disrupt the pH of the skin and affect the barrier that the skin forms against infections and pathogens. Human skin is simply not capable of withstanding the chemical composition of bleach. 

The chemical burns that develop from contact between skin and bleach can vary in severity depending on the length of time the bleach is applied for. The more time that the bleach is in contact with the skin, the worse the chemical burns will be. Chemical burns will also be worse if the bleach used is pure, without being diluted at all first. If you have attempted to put bleach on your skin for any reason, you must do your best to remove it immediately. The first step in getting the bleach off of your skin is to rinse the area of skin under running water for 5-10 minutes at least. Also, remove any clothing that you have on that came into contact with the chemical. After this rinse, use soap and water to gently scrub away any remainders of bleach. You need to ensure that all traces of bleach are gone from your skin, as any residual bleach could cause further damage. After cleansing the area as such, you can dry off your skin and assess the damage that has been done. 

To assess the damage done in chemical burns, examine how the skin looks where you put the bleach. If you got the bleach off of your skin before severe damage was done, it is possible that your skin is only mildly irritated. While chemical burns normally require immediate medical attention, if you only notice mild redness without any pain, you can wait to see if the condition gets better before seeing a medical professional. You can apply cool compresses and ointments to the burn to see if that helps with the symptoms. However, if the burns don’t get better quickly, you will need to seek medical attention as soon as possible. When chemical burns are labelled as “second degree” burns, this means that the burn has penetrated into deeper layers of the skin. Second degree burns can even cause scars, and all burns of this level must be treated by a medical professional as soon as possible. Third degree burns go completely through the skin to damage tissues and nerves underneath the skin. Third degrees can cause blackening of the skin as well as numbness from nerve damage. Third degree burns are extremely serious and are considered a medical emergency.

Chemical burns can be avoided by getting appropriate medical attention instead of seeking home remedies. Toenail fungus infections are best treated by a licensed podiatrist, who are doctors that specialize in treating issues of the feet specifically. Many treatments available for toenail fungus aren’t very effective, and some of them can even have serious risk of harmful side effects. If you have a toenail fungus, you should be able to receive appropriate, effective, and safe treatment for it so that you can be cured without putting your body at risk. The PinPointe laser is an FDA-approved treatment for fungus that only requires one session to eliminate the fungus. To learn more about the PinPointe laser technology and schedule a free consultation with one of our podiatrists, visit our website here.