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How to Remove Fiberglass from Skin

This article will discuss what happens to skin when it comes in contact with fiberglass, how to remove the fiberglass from skin and the possible risks associated with working with the material. We will also discuss how to safely work with fiberglass.

Signs

The Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry states that fiberglass can cause the following symptoms.

  • Skin irritation and pain
  • Eye irritation or redness
  • Temporary stomach discomfort
  • Soreness in the throat or nose

How much fiberglass was exposed will determine the symptoms that a person experiences.

Fiberglass dermatitis can occur when skin is exposed to fiberglass fragments or dust. This happens when fiberglass dust or fragments become embedded in the skin’s outer layer.

Fiberglass rash is typically characterized by small, flaky blisters and dry skin. The inflammation will appear reddish on pale skin. Long glass fibers can get stuck to the skin and protrude from the skin.

The severity of the rash is dependent on many factors such as:

  • How deep the fibers penetrate skin
  • The fibers’ thickness and length
  • Factors such as heat or humidity can have an impact on the environment.

Irritation is more common with thicker fibers than those that are shorter.

Fiberglass dermatitis can be temporary and is often caused by frequent contact with fiberglass. In rare cases, however, people may experience ongoing symptoms if they work with fiberglass.

Is fiberglass going to come out of its own accord?

Fiberglass can sometimes be removed from the skin by itself. This takes some time and may not result in all the fiberglass being removed from the skin.

It is best to remove visible fiberglass from the skin and treat any rash. If the symptoms do not improve, you may need to seek medical attention.

How to safely remove fiberglass skin

One person might be able to remove larger fiberglass particles directly from their skin. This can be done by:

  1. Wash the area with running water, then gently dry it with a towel.
  2. Place a piece tape carefully on any glass fibers sticking out of the skin.
  3. To remove fibers, peel off the tape

This can be used to diagnose fiberglass dermatitis. This technique can remove larger fibers from skin, but not all of them.

Avoid scratching and rubbing the area affected as this can cause fibers to push deeper into the skin. Emollient creams such as Eucerin and E45 can be used to soothe the itching and dryness. If necessary, doctors can recommend further treatment.

Fiberglass work involves risks

Fiberglass exposure is a concern for those who work with it. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, (NIOSH) states that this includes workers in:

  • Fiberglass installation
  • Boat manufacturing
  • Heating, ventilation and air conditioning ductwork cleaning & installation
  • Construction

Fiberglass can cause irritation to the eyes, nose, skin, lung and stomach. Lung injuries can also be caused by inhaling long fibers.

However, fiberglass dissolves quickly in lung fluids and is less dangerous than ceramic fibers.

The International Agency for Research on Cancer in 2002 found no evidence that fiberglass can increase cancer risk.

However, preliminary research did not show enough evidence to support the carcinogenic potential for glass fibers and wool in animals.

To determine if fiberglass is carcinogenic, scientists need to do more research.

How to safely work with fiberglass

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, employees should not be exposed to fiberglass dust at work for more than 15 mg per cubic meter in one eight-hour shift.

These precautions are essential when working with fiberglass:

  • Wear loose-fitting clothes
  • To prevent contact with fiberglass, rubber gloves made of nitrile are recommended.
  • Wearing a NIOSH-approved N95 particulate respirator
  • Wear protective goggles and side shields
  • You can clean fiberglass surfaces using a wet cloth and a vacuum.

After each shift, workers should wash their clothing with fiberglass.

When should you seek help

If you have persistent symptoms from fiberglass exposure, it is important to seek medical attention.

If fiberglass is embedded in the skin or if it is difficult to remove, a person should consult a doctor. An infection may occur if fiberglass is deeply embedded.

Skin infection can be characterized by:

  • Swelling
  • Pus
  • The affected area is warm

Summary

Fiberglass is a synthetic material that can be found in pipes, cars, boats and insulation. Fiberglass can cause skin irritations and skin rashes.

You can remove fiberglass particles safely by running water on the affected area and then gently pulling the fibers off the skin with tape. Symptoms can be eased with corticosteroid and emollient creams.

A doctor should be consulted if someone has persistent symptoms of fiberglass dermatitis.

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