Interventions for treating phosphorus burns

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First aid for phosphorus burns involves the common sense measures of acting promptly to remove the patient’s clothes, irrigating the wound(s) with water or saline continuously, and removing phosphorus particles. There is no evidence that using copper sulphate to assist visualisation of phosphorus particles for removal is associated with better outcome, and some evidence that systemic absorption of copper sulphate may be harmful. We have so far been unable to identify any other comparisons relevant to informing other aspects of the care of patients with phosphorus burns.

Phosphorus burns result from industrial and military injuries, and they are rarely encountered in usual clinical practice; however, these chemical burns can be fatal and are associated with significant morbidity and prolonged hospitalisation. Removal of patients’ clothes, continuous irrigation of their wounds with cold solutions and removal of phosphorus particles are the most important elements of the management of phosphorus burns. This review summarises the evidence of effects (beneficial and harmful) of all interventions for treating people with phosphorus burns.

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