Battery acid can cause chemical burns, also known as caustic burns. If you get battery acid on your skin, it must be treated immediately. What kind of burn treatment, however, will depend on the type of battery acid.
This article explains the different kinds of battery acids and the potential complications of contact with them. It also discusses how to treat your skin if it comes into contact with battery acid.
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What Is Battery Acid?
Different types of batteries contain different types of battery acid. The common kinds are:
Alkaline batteries, car batteries, and lithium-ion batteries can be dangerous in different ways. Alkaline batteries and sulphuric batteries can cause chemical burns. Lithium-ion batteries can cause fires.
Symptoms of Battery Acid on Skin
Battery acid usually causes damage just to the area of contact. The severity depends on how long the acid is in contact with the skin. It also depends on the type and strength of the acid. You may not have symptoms immediately after getting battery acid on your skin. Once symptoms happen, they can include:
Contact Other Than With Skin
If battery acid is ingested or inhaled or comes into contact with the lips or eyes, other symptoms can occur. These include:
If you're helping someone who got battery acid on their skin, make sure they don't touch their mouth or eyes. Protect yourself from the battery acid, too.
When to Call Poison Control
With any type of chemical burn, it's a good idea to call Poison Control. Make sure you know the kind of battery acid when you call. Tell them where the battery acid came from and the details of the incident. Poison Control can give you information on how to treat a chemical burn.
Poison Control Hotline or 911
Call 911 immediately if:
For less severe burns, the Poison Control Hotline is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, at (800) 222-1222.
Treating Skin After Battery Acid Contact
Treatment depends on the type of battery acid.
Alkaline Battery Acid
Follow these steps if you or someone else has contacted alkaline battery acid:
Sulphuric Battery Acid
Sulphuric acid from a lead battery should not be rinsed with plain water. Plain water can make symptoms worse. Instead, make a solution of warm, soapy water. It may sting at first, but keep washing the area with the soapy solution to completely remove the acid.
Battery acid needs to be immediately removed from the skin. For an alkaline burn, use clear water. For sulphuric acid, use warm, soapy water.
Lithium-Ion Battery Explosion
Lithium-ion batteries can malfunction, causing:
If a lithium-ion battery causes a fire and burns, call 911 immediately.
Battery acid must be flushed from the skin immediately. This is important even if it doesn't feel like it is causing damage. The longer the battery acid stays on the skin, the more severe the damage can be. Other complications that happen after exposure to battery acid include:
Battery acid can cause other complications, like eye damage and respiratory problems. If swallowed, batteries can cause serious internal damage.
Battery acid can cause severe burns. If your skin comes into contact with battery acid, it's important to take action right away.
Treatment depends on the type of
acid. Alkaline battery acid should be rinsed with clear water. Use warm, soapy water for sulphuric battery acid. Always seek medical care or call poison control for any kind of chemical burn.
A Word From Verywell
Battery acid exposure can range from minor to severe. Most cases are mild and can be treated with first aid and follow-up care. Still, regardless of severity, it is vital to seek medical care to prevent infection and heal damaged tissues.
Take care to handle any type of battery or chemical carefully. Always read the warning labels. If your skin is exposed to battery acid, seek medical attention or call the Poison Control Hotline. Remember to avoid spreading the battery acid to other parts of the skin and avoid contact with your eyes or mouth.
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What happens if you get battery acid on skin?
The longer the battery acid stays on the skin, the more severe the damage can be. Other complications that happen after exposure to battery acid include: Chemical burn complications: Severe chemical burns can cause complications, such as infection, scarring, loss of fingers/toes, severe pain, and emotional issues.
Do you have to wash your hands after touching batteries?
Always practice good hygiene and wash your hands after handling a battery and before eating. If you handle the lead plates in a battery and don't wash your hands properly, you could be exposed to lead.
Is dried up battery acid dangerous?
Is battery corrosion dangerous? Battery acid — and the corrosion that occurs when it leaks — is highly toxic and caustic. Alkaline batteries leak potassium hydroxide, a substance that can cause serious eye damage and respiratory and skin irritation. So, how do you clean off battery acid safely?