Air Bags and the Skin

Monica Corazza, MD; Silvana Trincone, MD; Maria Rosaria Zampino, MD; Annarosa Virgili, MD

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Chemical Burns

Due to its high pH, the fine alkaline aerosol containing sodium hydroxide and various metallic oxides may cause chemical burns.[10,13,14] These appear to happen when the gases come into contact with body liquids such as sweat or tears. Alkaline irritants penetrate the skin and, due to skin's scarce capacity for counter alkalinity, may induce deep tissue injuries.

Chemical burns may be well demarcated with sharp edges and with a splash shape. We observed a case of a superficial chemical burn characterized by erythema and edema on the volar part of the left arm of a young male patient.[15] The lesions healed with only topical corticosteroid therapy, leaving slight postinflammatory hyperpigmentation.

In the case of superficial lesions, differential diagnosis of irritant dermatitis may be impossible. Occasionally, second-degree chemical burns or full-thickness chemical burns have been described.[10,16]

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