Chemical burns on the lips can happen in a variety of ways. These can include:

  • Incorrect use of products intended for the skin or hair, e.g., using the products in a way the manufacturer did not intend, experimenting at home with do-it-yourself treatments like facial peels or facial hair bleaching, burns at a beauty salon
  • Accidental splashing or splattering of cleaning chemicals
  • Accidentally drinking toxic chemicals
  • Spraying substances from an aerosol can, e.g., can occur from changes in air flow, person in vicinity, spraying the can the wrong way, etc.
  • Industrial or workplace accidents, e.g., chemical spill, explosion, etc.
  • Intentional attacks, e.g., acid attacks, etc.
  • Sunlight after exposure to lime juice


What are the effects of chemical burns on the lips?

Chemical burns of the lips can result in:

  • Disfigurement
  • Scarring
  • Distortion of the shape of the lips
  • Difficulty with speaking, eating, and drinking

If the injuries were the result of ingesting toxic chemicals, there may be internal injuries in addition to burns on the lips and in the mouth.

The effects of the chemical burn rely, in large part, on how quickly the person received medical care, the strength of the chemical, and the size of the affected area.

Chemical burns can have several physical effects, but they can also cause a person emotional distress and significant body image issues. Because the lips are such a prominent, visible feature, any scarring or disfigurement can make it difficult for a person to go back to work, feel comfortable in social settings, and enjoy life the way s/he did before.

What should I do after a chemical burn on the lips?

Burns at Home

If a person has suffered chemical burns on the lips, act quickly. Pay close attention to the type of chemical that caused the burn.

The usual recommendation is to irrigate the burned area with water, but for certain chemicals, irrigating with water can make the situation worse, not better.

These chemicals can react with water to form other chemicals or even combust. As a result, you should not irrigate these chemicals immediately:

  • Sodium amide, azide, hydride, hydrosulfite, metal, peroxide, hydroxide
  • Potassium
  • Calcium oxide (if working with dry lime, brush powder off before irrigating)
  • Phosphorus
  • Magnesium
  • Lithium
  • Cesium
  • Titanium tetrachloride

If you know the chemical does not include any of the above, begin flushing with a cool, gentle stream of water immediately. (If you are unsure whether a substance includes a reactive agent, call Poison Control: 1-800-222-1222.)

Do not try to neutralize the reaction by using an acid or alkali. This can cause another reaction.

In most cases, you would only need to visit the emergency room for second-, third-, and fourth-degree burns; however, when the burned area involves any part of the face, you need to seek immediate medical attention, especially if you believe the injured person ingested any chemicals.

Burns at Work

If you are injured in a workplace accident, follow the emergency medical instructions posted for the materials you are using. Most businesses that use strong chemicals post instructions on how to handle chemical burns.

Even if your workplace includes instructions on how to care for the burn, remember to always call for emergency medical care for chemical burns on the lips or face. The emergency medical professionals will remove the chemicals from the skin, remove any foreign substances, and clean the wound.

You may be able take over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen, naproxen, or acetaminophen for the pain, but first consult your doctor.

What does long-term chemical burn treatment entail?

Depending on the severity of the chemical burns, skin grafts may be necessary.  Physical therapy, occupational therapy, or speech therapy might be necessary to restore function after severe burns on the lips.

Chemical burns on the lips can be painful and disfiguring. If you or a loved one has suffered chemical burns on the lips because of the actions of another party, you may be able to hold that party accountable and recover injury compensation. Contact our legal referral specialists today for assistance: 844-549-8774.