Trifluoroacetic acid is a very strong carboxylic acid. The acid has been suspected to have similar toxic effects as hydrofluoric acid on skin contact. Hydrofluoric acid is highly toxic, owing to skin penetration by fluoride ions. A spill of hydrofluoric acid on the skin may be fatal. As trifluoroacetic acid contains fluorine, patients with chemical burns caused by trifluoroacetic acid have been given particular attention when treated in the hospital.Objectives
To gather the known cases of trifluoroacetic acid burns from our department to give an overview of how they were exposed, the clinical presentation, and treatment.Methods
Five patients with chemical skin burns caused by trifluoroacetic acid were reviewed with regard to the extent of the burn, treatment, blood samples taken, and systemic effects.Results
The chemical burns reported were limited (< 1% of the total body surface). The burns healed as expected for chemical burns caused by acids. None of the patients showed any symptoms or signs that are typical for hydrofluoric acid burns.Conclusion
Localized chemical burns caused by trifluoroacetic acid should be regarded as being similar to burns from other acids, with the exception of hydrofluoric acid. To our knowledge, there are no indications that trifluoroacetic acid causes the same toxic effects as hydrofluoric acid.