A TCA burn is a chemical burn that occurs when someone comes into contact with Trichloroacetic Acid (TCA), an industrial solvent and powerful caustic agent. They can happen to anyone at any time. Still, more often than not, they affect people who have another physical or mental challenge that limits their mobility or awareness of what is happening around them.
HOW TCA BURNS OCCUR
Trichloroacetic Acid is the active ingredient in some commercial products used for hair removal, such as home wax kits. TCA is also present in some health care products like deodorant sticks and antiperspirants, most commonly with aluminum salts (alum). TCA can cause severe burns on the skin, eyes, and respiratory system.
These types of TCA burns can also happen if someone spills or sprays TCA on other surfaces – not just skin – where the chemical fumes get inhaled.
Other types of TCA burns can happen if someone comes into contact with a different kind of skin-friendly but acid-containing substance that can harm their nose or mouth, such as household cleaners.
Here are some examples of products that are most likely to contain TCA and can often get purchased without a prescription:
- Waxing kits for removing the hair on legs, arms, face, bikini line
- Deodorant sticks or antiperspirants containing aluminum salts (alum) or potassium alum
- TCA 10% cream or AHA Acid 30% in creams, gels, pads
- Abrasive soaps containing glycolic acid
If any of these products are used on the skin when there is still liquid inside the container, a person may develop a chemical burn. The risk of this happening is higher if the product gets used near the eyes, nose, mouth, or other delicate areas.
EFFECTS AND SYMPTOMS OF TCA BURNS
The adverse effects of a TCA burn can be extensive and life-altering. First and foremost, any area that has been affected by a TCA burn will be excruciating. The skin will be red, swollen, and may have a frostbite-like appearance. If the burn is more severe, large blisters may form on the skin. These blisters are often excruciating and can quickly become infected.
If the eyes get burned, they will be very red, swollen, and painful. The person may have difficulty seeing and might even go temporarily blind. There is also a high risk of permanent eye damage if the burns are not appropriately treated.
If the respiratory system has been affected, the person may have difficulty breathing, a hoarse voice, or labored breathing. There is also a risk of coughing up blood, which can signify that the TCA fumes have damaged the lungs.
If the person has ingested any TCA chemicals, they may experience nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. There is also a risk for severe internal organ damage if too much of the chemical gets ingested.
All of these adverse effects can be long-lasting and life-changing.
If someone experiences these symptoms after being exposed to TCA, they should go to the hospital immediately. Burns can be very dangerous and even deadly if not treated properly. It is essential to seek medical help as soon as possible if any of these symptoms are present.
HOW TO PREVENT TCA BURNS
There are a few ways to protect yourself from getting a TCA to burn. First and foremost, it is essential to read the labels of all products very carefully before using them. If there is any doubt about whether or not a product contains TCA, it is best not to use it.
It is also essential to be very careful when using any acid-containing substance. Many of these products come in contact with the skin, so it is imperative to avoid spilling them or coming into contact with them in any way.
HOW TCA BURNS ARE TREATED
The first step in treating a TCA burn is to remove any chemicals still on the skin. Removing such chemicals from the skin can be done by flushing the area with lots of cool water for at least 15 minutes. The person may also need to take a shower or bath.
If the eyes get burned, they will need to be flushed with lots of cool water for at least 15 minutes.
If there is any chemical in the eyes, it is important to avoid rubbing them. The person should seek medical help as soon as possible.
If the respiratory system has been affected, the person will need to get hospitalized and receive oxygen therapy.
If the person has ingested any TCA chemicals, they will need to be administered with an antidote immediately. This can be done by making them drink lots of milk or water mixed with baking soda.
All burns are excruciating, and TCA burns are no exception. The person will need to take pain relievers as often as necessary to maintain comfort during the healing process. They should also follow their doctor’s advice about what kind of activities they can engage in while recovering from a TCA burn. Furthermore, someone who has experienced any burn needs good skincare that includes gentle cleansing every day. Doctors may also recommend sunblock on parts of the body that were burned, making it possible to lighten the scars. It is important not to scrub the area too much since it could cause more damage and delay healing time. If there is any concern about scarring, sunscreen should be applied to the site to prevent scarring. It is also important to avoid tanning or using self-tanners while recovering from a TCA burn. After a TCA burn heals, make sure you avoid further exposure because even if all signs of an existing injury have disappeared, you may still be susceptible to another burn.
TCA burns are severe and can be life-threatening if not treated properly. If someone experiences any of the symptoms mentioned above after being exposed to TCA, they need medical help immediately. Once they are in the hospital, doctors will determine what type of treatment is necessary for that particular person based on the severity of their case. As long as there was no ingestion of the chemical and no exposure to breathing in any vapors or aerosolized droplets, it may be possible for the patient to recover at home with good skincare and pain management. It is not recommended to delay seeking medical help if any of these symptoms are present to avoid scarring or other negative consequences.