Polk J, Thomas H. Automotive airbag-induced second-degree chemical burn resulting in Staphylococcus aureus infection. J Am Osteopath Assoc 1994;94(9):741. doi: 10.7556/jaoa.19184.108.40.2061.
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A young woman did not seek emergency treatment after a minor automobile collision as she thought that she had been spared serious injury by the inflation of the driver's-side airbag. She had a benign-looking erythema on her neck which, over the next several days, became a second-degree chemical burn infected with Staphylococcus aureus. The burn and subsequent infection took several weeks to heal and the patient had to endure a prolonged course of antibiotics, nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drugs, and continued irrigation. This case exemplifies why alkali chemical burns from an automotive airbag should be treated aggressively, despite their benign appearance, as they may take several days to evolve. Physicians should be warned that careful follow-up examination of patients seen in the hospital emergency department or in the physician's office is necessary to abate any hidden sequelae. Of course, the opportunity to decrease morbidity is lost if the patient does not seek emergency treatment.
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