A spatula with cement and bricks is kept together. A spatula with cement and bricks is kept together.

How to Treat Cement Burns? 3 Effective Ways

Working with cement is not an easy task. You are prone to cement burns when in contact with wet cement. It can cause skin irritation and infections.

Cement has a great role in this modern world. It is amusing that the majority of the population has direct or indirect contact with cement. You might even try cementing your households on your own. From giant buildings to the sidewalks are all built using concrete.

You have seen concrete trucks carrying loads of concrete for construction. Therefore, it is essential to understand the impact and consequences of cement burns. This way, you can treat and prevent cement burns or other skin problems.

1. A Little about Cement

Cement usage is crucial in every economy. Many people are employed in this vast industry. Although cement has its benefits, we should also recognize its dangerous side.

People working on a construction site with wet cement.
Photo by Rodolfo Quirós from Pexels

Cement is used in construction sites as a binder. There are two kinds of cement, non-hydraulic and hydraulic. Cement is highly alkaline. Thus there are chances of getting burnt.

Since cement is available in different forms designed for specific purposes, there are high chances for its usage among the majority.

Read more about cement.

2. What Is a Cement Burn?

You might have noticed the safety warning on cement bags. The setting process of cement produces heat. It can damage your skin. Such reactions create skin burns which are called cement burns or concrete burns.

Wet concrete can create cement burns swiftly. Dry cement causes eye or respiratory irritations due to its contact with mucous membranes.

A doctor treating a patient with cement burns.
jprom on Shutterstock

Exposure to Portland Cement causes chemical burns. These burns often change skin color. Skin gets a blue or purple color. The cement, when kept on your skin for a long, absorbs all the moisture and hardens.

The alkaline nature of cement can cause serious burns. The tissues get damaged with the penetration of alkalinity. At first, you may not even notice such burns, but the condition changes rapidly.

Other conditions like Allergic Contact Dermatitis can occur with cement exposure. The hexavalent chromium salts result in such skin conditions. This condition can persist for years if not treated appropriately.

3. Causes of Cement Burns

As water is mixed with cement, the pH becomes higher to an acidic level—calcium oxide changes to calcium hydroxide. The skin has a low pH, which creates chemical reactions. This reaction is a slow-forming injury.

The wet cement gives a burning sensation to the skin and creates skin burns. Burns occur according to the hardening of the concrete. It absorbs the water content and dries.

When the concrete mixture is on your skin, the same process happens, and skin burns occur. Blisters, swellings, and bleeding can also occur. All of these can contribute to creating burns of various degrees.

A close-up of cement flowing through a machine on a construction site.
Photo by Life Of Pix from Pexels

Such burns lead to permanent scars on the affected regions. These burns happen in severe conditions. It is painful and causes discomfort. These skin problems, if left untreated, can create high effects.

The actual problem lies in the identification of such skin burns. Since such burns show up after days, people often forget the real reason. It hinders the diagnosis. Thus, mistreatment occurs, which worsens such a condition.

The symptoms of cement burns include:

  • Itching
  • Redness
  • Scabs
  • Blisters
  • Pain
  • Dryness

Check your skin and if it shows such signs, get the necessary treatment.

4. Prevention of Cement Burns

Initially, it is necessary to create awareness mainly among concrete workers. Awareness can limit many hazards. Provide needed information regarding concrete mixing and chemical burns.

A spatula coated with cement is kept on a surface.
Photo by Haneen Krimly on Unsplash

4.1. Safety Equipment

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) can prevent skin irritations and other hazards. Provide it on job sites. Using high-quality gloves can avoid severe troubles.

When you select gloves, check whether they get wet or allow particles to go inside, if so avoid using such gloves and invest in proper pieces of equipment. Liquid or chemical-resistant safety gloves will help in preventing burns.

4.2. Allowed Wearables

Avoid wearing watches and jewelry while working with cement. Wash your hands before you wear the gloves.

Wear a long-sleeved shirt and full-length pants. Use a face shield to protect your eyes and face. Waterproof boots will ensure the safety of your foot.

4.3. Safe Environment

A safe working environment with properly trained workers can avoid dangerous situations. Have a safety plan. Ensure proper supplies at the construction site.

Commonsense and consumer awareness can limit the risk. Caustic injury is avoidable with keen preventive measures. Keep cement out of reach of children.

Avoid inhaling cement dust as it can cause problems in your lungs. The dust makes it difficult to breathe.

5. 3 Ways to Treat Cement Burns

A patient getting a bandage done by a medical professional.
Photo by cottonbro studio/ Pexels

5.1. Wash Your Skin with Vinegar

Initially, brush off the cement so that the cement won’t create a compounding issue. Then wash your skin with cold running water.

Apply vinegar to halt the burning sensation. Vinegar is a weak acid, so it can help you maintain the pH.

5.2. Seek Medical Attention

If the burn is severe, it is advisable to seek a medical professional for advanced treatment. Remind the affected person that it is a cement burn, as the treatment for burns and cement burns are different.

According to the intensity of the skin burn, treatment is given. The various degrees of burns have their own way of treatment. Antibiotics avoid the chances of infection.

Sometimes you may have to undergo surgeries to remove dead tissues and transplant healthy tissues.

5.3. First Aid Kit

Remove dirty clothing. Clean the affected areas and then rinse them using a pH-neutral soap.

Using clean towels wipe the region. Then understand the pH of your skin using pH strips.

Conclusion

Always avoid direct skin exposure to cement. With the right types of equipment and safety guidelines, you can prevent huge hazards. Cement burns should be treated properly.

Even if you get such skin burns, use the first aid kit immediately. It can reduce the impact of the burn. Update yourself with good safety equipment and invest in high-quality PPE.

Early identification of burns can help you to treat them better. So educate yourself with the information regarding concrete burns. Prevention is better than cure.

FAQs

1. What does cement burn feel like?

The symptoms of cement burns include- itching, redness, scabs, blisters, pain, swelling, and dryness.

2. What to do for cement burns?

For cement burns, brush off the cement, wash the affected area with cold water, apply a neutralizer (vinegar), and seek medical help as soon as possible.

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