Direct contact with wet cement can cause chemical burns to the skin or eyes. Various building materials, concrete, plaster, grout and mortar, often contain Portland cement, caustic alkaline binding substance which may cause a serious skin reaction with limited exposure. Because pain is not immediate, the worker can not realize the extent of cement burn until later when symptoms including blisters, skin discoloration and dead skin cells appear (Reference 1).
Remove clothing or boots if they contain wet concrete or other wet cement mixtures. The longer in wet cement in contact with your skin, the greater the risk of suffering a cement burn. Brush away dry patches of cement and rinse the skin with lukewarm water for 20 minutes to remove any cement residues (Reference 2).
Because the cement is very alkaline, adding a neutralizing agent such as white vinegar to the rinse water. Use citrus juice, a neutralizing agent having mild acidic properties, if the vinegar is not available. If you regularly work with wet cement, keep the pH-neutral cleaning agents on hand (Reference 1).
Cement burns to the eyes can be caused by not wearing safety glasses when working with wet cement. Instant flushing the eyes with clear water is necessary for at least 20 minutes contact an ophthalmologist for advice, even if the employee does not experience pain or vision disturbances.
What appears to be red skin days after contact with wet cement can be a difficult, caustic burn in a few days. Initial symptoms may include a skin rash, followed by inflammation and itching, swelling, and then blistering. Monitor the skin, consult a health professional if symptoms worsen after a few days (Reference 2).
Because the level of high calcium in Portland cement leach moisture from the skin workers may think apply to a lotion or skin-softening agent, such as lanolin, protect and nourish the skin. However, these products can trap the caustic solution to the surface of the skin where it can cause more damage (Reference 1).
If a cement burn is severe, it may require medical attention, which may include antibiotic therapy, daily soaks of antiseptic like iodine or povidone or hospitalization for debridement of dead and damaged tissue.