April 30, 2010

Bleach in Eyes

Posted in Category : General Health

Bleach can be described as a chemical solution containing chlorine, which is easily available in most stores. This chlorine based liquid is used in common household applications like cleaning, whitewashing and disinfecting. In most houses, people use bleach almost every day, to –

  • Add a shine to white porcelain items, which include candleholders, sinks and pottery
  • Brighten up glass dishware
  • Deodorize thermos bottles and coolers
  • Disinfect garbage cans
  • Get rid of mold and mildew from fabrics, bathroom tiles, shower curtains, bath mats, patio stones, stucco and painted surfaces
  • Increase the longevity of flowers that have been cut and are placed in a vase
  • Kill weeds that have appeared in the cracks of the sidewalks and also prevent them from coming back
  • Prepare an all-purpose disinfectant spray that can be used around the house
  • Remove slippery, unsightly moss and algae from brick, stone or concrete walkways
  • Sanitize garden tools and furniture
  • Sterilize items as well as surfaces in the kitchen, such as cutting boards, countertops and the butcher’s block

Though there are so many uses of bleach, it is important to limit contact with this potent chemical solution, as there are several ill effects of chlorine on health. While using bleach, do make sure that you keep it away from your skin, nose and eyes. Chlorine is a potent irritant to the skin, respiratory tract as well as the eyes. Any inappropriate exposure to this chemical could cause severe tissue and cell damage.

Bleach on the skin

In the book “CRC Handbook of Laboratory Safety”, author A. Keith Furr, states that exposing your skin to common household bleach may not bring about any drastic effects immediately, especially if the bleach has been diluted with water. However, prolonged contact with the chemical may cause you to experience –

  • Burning
  • Severe itching
  • Irritation and inflammation

If the bleach is left on to your skin for a very long period of time, it could lead to pigment lightening and irreversible tissue damage. Therefore, people are advised to wear thick rubber gloves when handling bleach. In case your skin comes in contact with industrial bleach formulas, the symptoms may be a lot more severe and will be evident much sooner.

Bleach inhalation

Inhalation of bleach can occur when you are doing the laundry, or while cleaning any surface in your house. Breathing in the strong fumes of this potent chemical solution can lead to severe internal damage, which includes deterioration of the lungs and esophagus lining. It has also been proved that bleach or chlorine inhalation can also lead to scarring of the respiratory tract. The symptoms of inhaling bleach are –

  • Burning in the eyes
  • Coughing
  • Irritation in the nose and throat
  • Shortness of breath
  • Nausea

To avoid this problem, try to use bleach only when you are wearing a mask. Alternately, while handling bleach keep your windows open so that the fumes can escape.

Bleach in eyes

Getting bleach in the eyes is more dangerous than bleach exposure to the skin, as the damage occurs a lot faster and can be much more debilitating. You will experience immediate pain and irritation in proportion to the potency of the bleach. Moreover, the irritation and damage will continue until the bleach has been rinsed away completely. The only way to treat bleach or chlorine in eyes is through extensive irrigation. Even in case of mild exposure, you are likely to experience pain and tenderness in the eyes for hours after all of the solution has been washed away. Administration of immediate first aid can help prevent permanent damage to the eyes. However, in case the bleach is in contact with the eyes for a long time, or if the bleach is very potent, the consequences could include vision damage or loss of the eye.

After administering first aid for bleach exposure at home, it is essential to visit a doctor to rule out the possibility of any serious damage.