Dry ice is the solid form of carbon dioxide. If you don't take the necessary handling precautions with dry ice, it can cause burns similar to frostbite 1. Though coming into brief contact with dry ice should not cause concern, prolonged exposure can become problematic. According to DryIceInfo.com, cells can become frozen and burns can develop due to exposure to dry ice. If you develop a burn from dry ice, treat the burn as you would treat a heat burn.
Dry ice is much colder than ice made from water. This is why precaution must be taken when handling dry ice 1. Even the inhalation of dry ice in confined quarters can be dangerous. Once dry ice melts, it converts into carbon dioxide. If you inhale enough of the gas, you can pass out and possibly die. It's possible to develop first- to third-degree burns if an accidental exposure to dry ice occurs.
If your skin comes into contact with dry ice, it's important to act immediately. Pain Enterprises states that a dry ice burn should be soaked in lukewarm water. Keep the burn submerged for at least 10 to 15 minutes. Don't use hot water, because this can aggravate the burn and help initiate cell death within and around the burn site. Using a hand cloth submerged in cold water can also help alleviate your dry ice burn. Don't use ice on the wound, because this can cause further damage to the affected area.
Using ointments with a dry ice burn can be beneficial in healing. Antibiotic ointments can help prevent the development of infections. Using aloe vera may also benefit your burn and help with pain. However, if the burn is severe (such as third-degree, where the surface appears waxy and leathery, with no signs of pain), you'll need to seek immediate medical attention.
With a minor dry ice burn, you can use gauze to lightly wrap the affected area. Don't wrap the wound too tightly, because you can get lint and debris trapped into your wound. The gauze should be wrapped lightly enough to avoid putting too much pressure on your wound. Wrapping gauze on your burn will help reduce pain, swelling, and protect blisters that may form as a result of the burn. If you develop blisters, don't try to break them, because this can lead to infections.
Relief of Pain
Use over-the-counter pain medications, unless otherwise directed by your physician. Ibuprofen can help alleviate swelling associated with your dry ice burn, while Tylenol can help with pain. If symptoms are persistent and bothersome, ask your physician to prescribe stronger pain medications.
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