Anytime you work with welding, there is always a chance of getting a burn. The good news is that most welding burns can be treated and prevented if you take the proper precautions.
Welding burns can be treated by running cool water or by using a cold compress over the burn for a few minutes. If the burn is more serious, you may need to seek medical attention. To prevent welding burns, always wear gloves and long-sleeved clothing when working. Make sure to keep your skin covered as much as possible. Also, avoid touching the welding torch directly.
In this article, we will discuss the best ways to treat and prevent welding burns on the skin.
Types of welding burns
During welding, two types of burns can occur. First, the ultraviolet (UV) rays of the arc will burn unprotected skin directly. Second, contact or skin burns occur when the hot metal or sparks touch the unprotected skin.
Flash or UV Welding Burns
Flash or UV burns occur when you are burned by the ultraviolet light that comes from the welding source. This type of burn is no different than being burned by the sun.
The burn happens immediately after exposure to UV light, and it is usually more severe than skin burns. These types of burns are common in TIG welding because tig involves a lot of tungsten electrode wire that is often hotter than the welding arc itself.
We know three main types of UV radiation:
- UVA – This radiation type is responsible for the effects of aging on the skin. It can penetrate deep into the skin and cause cellular damage that will result in wrinkles and pigment changes. It is the longest wavelength and the least dangerous form.
- UVB – This radiation is responsible for sunburns. It is a medium-length wave with more energy behind it with power to burn the skin and cause cancer.
- UVC – This type of radiation is luckily blocked by the atmosphere and never makes it down to earth. However, It can be artificially produced with welding equipment.
Flash Burns On Eyes
UV radiation can also cause flash burns to the eyes. This type of burn can occur when you are looking at the welding arc, and it is more common with TIG welding than other types of welding.
The symptoms of a flash burn to the eyes include:
- A feeling of grit or sand in your eyes
- Pain or a burning sensation in your eyes
- Blurred vision or temporary blindness
- Redness and swelling of the eyes
Contact or Skin Welding Burns
Contact or skin welding burns occur when you are burned by the hot metal or sparks that fly off the welding rod. This type of burn is usually more severe than a flash burn, and it can occur even if you are wearing gloves.
They can happen anytime you are near the welding source, but they are most common when you are welding pipes or other small objects. This is because the sparks fly off the welding rod and can easily come into contact with your skin.
There are several types od skin welding burns:
First-degree Welding Burns
A first-degree welding burn is the most minor type of welding burn. It is a superficial burn that only affects the top layer of the skin. Symptoms include:
Second-degree Welding Burns
A second-degree welding burn is more serious than a first-degree burn. It is a partial thickness burn that affects the top and middle layer of the skin. Symptoms include:
Third-degree Welding Burns
A third-degree welding burn is the most serious type of welding burn. It is a full-thickness burn that affects all layers of the skin. Symptoms include:
- white or black skin
How To Treat Welding Burns?
There are multiple ways to treat welding burns depending on the intensity of the burn. Low to mild-grade burns can be treated at home with first aid while serious burns need immediate professional help.
In any case, we recommend you to visit your nearest hospital for treatment. However, for temporary relief below remedies may help you:
How to Treat Flash or Contact Burns on Skin
- Cool off your burn – Cool off your burn in the cold water as soon as possible. Do not apply any ice directly to the skin as it can damage your tissue further by attaching itself with your burned skin.
- Apply cold compress – Apply a cold compress over the burn for a few minutes. This will help soothe your burned skin cells: decrease the intensity of heat and prevent further affecting the remaining cells. Additionally, it will also lessen the burning sensation in the affected area.
- Take Pain reliefs – If you have mild to severe pain, take ibuprofen or acetaminophen to help relieve pain. Note that taking excessive pain relief medicine may cause constipation. Therefore, we recommend you take the prescription from a medical professional.
- Seak Medical attention if burn is large – If the burn is large, blistered, or on a sensitive area, seek medical attention. Do not break your blisters because there will more chances of getting affected.
NOTE: Avoid applying petroleum jelly, vaseline, aloe vera jell or any kind of grease on the freshly burned skin. This is because it will increase the risk of bacterial infection as well dissipate the heat. However, you can apply it sometime after your wound is half-healed.
Additional welding burn care tips
Below we are going to mention further tips and precautions to take care of your welding burns at home until they are healed for good.
- Clean your wound by dipping a cotton cloth in lukewarm water and gently pressing it on your burn.
- Remove old bandages from your wound and replace them with a new, sterile bandage regularly. Make sure to place a layer of gauze on the wound to keep the bandage intact.
- Avoid using excessive amounts of topical medications on the wound.
- Keep your burned area elevated by keeping a pillow or cushion or some clothing under it. It will help reduce the pain.
- Monitor your healing progress. Keep a check on your burn and see for swelling, redness, blisters or infection. If there is no progress, get in touch with your doctor.
Natural Remedies for Treating Welding Burns on the Skin
- Aloe Vera – Aloe vera is a great remedy for first- and second-degree burns. It helps soothe the skin and prevent infection. You can either apply aloe vera gel or juice to the burn or drink it in supplement form.
- Honey – Honey has anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties that help speed up the healing of burns. Apply honey directly to the burn, or mix it with yogurt or olive oil and apply to the skin.
- Tea Tree Oil – Tea tree oil is a natural antiseptic that helps kill bacteria and promote healing. Apply tea tree oil diluted in water to the burn, or add a few drops to your bathtub if you have a large burn.
- Coconut Oil – Coconut oil is a natural moisturizer that helps soothe and heal burns. Apply coconut oil directly to the burn, or mix it with lavender oil and apply to the skin.
- Calendula – Calendula is a natural anti-inflammatory agent that helps soothe burns. Apply calendula ointment to the burn, or take it in supplement form.
Over the Counter Remedies for Treating Welding Burns on the Skin
- Ibuprofen: Ibuprofen is a pain reliever that can help relieve the pain of a burn.
- Acetaminophen: Acetaminophen is another pain reliever that can help relieve the pain of a burn.
- Alcohol: Alcohol can be used to cleanse a burn and prevent infection.
- Silvadene: Silvadene is an antibiotic ointment that can be used to treat burns.
How To Prevent Welding Burns?
There are multiple ways to prevent welding burns, and the most important one is to wear the right safety gear. This includes welding gloves, a welding helmet, and a welding jacket.
Use Protective Equipment
The gloves will protect your hands from sparks and hot metal, the helmet will protect your eyes from UV light, and the jacket will protect your skin from the heat. Additionally, make sure your ears are protected either with the helmet or ear cuffs. Because there are high chances of sparks getting into your ear canals and causing burns.
TIP: Read my Protective equipment essentials guide.
Wear Fire-Resistant Clothing
Avoid wearing synthetic clothing because it can catch fire easily. Similarly, avoid wearing heavy clothing in winters, because if the sparks cause to fire your upper layers of clothing, chances are you may not know quickly. The best solution is to wear fire-resistant welding aprons, sleeves, and boots for maximum prevention.
Be Aware of Your Surroundings
Another way to prevent welding burns is to be aware of your surroundings. Make sure there is nothing flammable close to where you are welding, and keep a fire extinguisher nearby just in case.
Safe Welding Techniques
Finally, make sure to practice safe welding techniques. This includes keeping your hands and body away from the welding source, not wearing loose clothing, and avoiding contact with the sparks.
Yes, if the welding burn is serious and affects a large area of your skin, if it results in blisters, or if you are experiencing pain. seek professional help to ensure that you do not have any complications from the burn.
The first step in treating an explosion burn is to cool the wound with cold water. You can use a cold compress, or if the wound is large, soak it in a cold bath. Do not apply ice directly to the skin. You may also need to take pain relief medication and antibiotics if the wound becomes infected. seek medical attention if the wound is serious.
When welding, you should avoid wearing loose clothing, as it can easily catch on fire. Additionally, you should avoid wearing synthetic materials, as they are also very flammable. It is best to wear clothing made of natural fibers, such as cotton or wool, which will be less likely to catch on fire.
There is a small risk of getting skin cancer from welding. This is because the UV light from the welding process can cause damage to the skin cells and increase your risk of developing cancer. However, the risk is minimal compared to other types of skin cancers. So while it is important to take precautions to protect your skin, it is not necessary to stop welding altogether.
Welding burns can often lead to more serious injuries if they are not treated properly. For example, if the burn blisters, there is a greater risk of infection. Additionally, if the burn is not properly cooled, it can damage the skin tissue and lead to scarring. So it is important to seek medical attention for any welding burns and to follow the first aid instructions carefully.
Welders should take precautions to avoid getting sunburned, such as wearing sunscreen and a hat, and staying in the shade when possible. Additionally, they should wear protective clothing, such as a welding jacket, to protect their skin from UV light and sparks.
Welding UV radiation is more dangerous than sunburn. This is because the UV light from the welding process can cause damage to the skin cells and increase your risk of developing cancer. Additionally, welding can produce sparks that can easily start a fire. So it is important to take precautions to protect yourself from both UV radiation and sparks.
The symptoms of a welding burn can vary depending on the severity of the burn. Generally, they will include pain, redness, swelling, and blisters. If you experience any of these symptoms, it is important to seek medical attention.