After receiving a chemical splash, any contaminated clothing and contact lenses must be carefully removed from the casualty, if safe to do so, and the affected tissues must be washed as quickly as possible.
Note: Contaminated clothing and contact lenses must not be allowed to be replaced - they should be carefully bagged for disposal. Clothing should be removed downwards, cutting shoulder seams if necessary, to avoid further contaminating the face and eyes.
Rinsing with water was the first protocol used for chemical decontamination and this dogma persists on the basis of arguments which are more practical than scientific, because of its general-purpose and non-toxic character and of its availability. It allows the chemical agent to be diluted and removed from the surface of the affected tissue and to be carried away by a mechanical washing effect.
However, there are limits to washing with water:
Improving on rinsing with water consists of finding other solutions without these limitations in order to increase the chances of the casualty being saved and experiencing minimum injury.
In order to accomplish this, Diphoterine® solution, an aqueous solution that contains an amphoteric and chelating molecule was introduced. The aim of the resulting solution is to prevent chemical lesions or to significantly lessen their severity.
Diphoterine® solution has been classified as a Medical Device according to the 93/42 CEE Directive. It acts on the chemical agent in order to stop or minimise the development of chemical lesions. It is classified IIa because it can be used on injured skin. (see publication: Dr Cavallini – Cavallini, Annals of Burns and Fire disasters 2004, vol XVII-2, 84-87 and Cavallini, European Journal of Anasesthesiology 2004, 21, 389-392)
The benefits of washing with Diphoterine® solution:
Secondary treatment and caring for a chemical injury (lesion):
Once decontamination as part of first aid is completed and has been effective, the chemical lesion no longer progresses, it is then possible to treat any damaged tissue in order to facilitate cicatrisation.
If the chemical product is toxic, this hazard can now be dealt with.
Chemical lesions may require secondary treatment and management by a physician.
Chemical lesions are conventionally managed in hospital burn treatment centres. The treatment is often similar to that required in case of thermal burns, with a few differences:
Cicatrisation takes longer. Skin grafts take less easily on chemical burns than on thermal burns.