Fiberglass or glass fiber is widely used as an insulator or lightweight building material, both for industrial and household purposes. When you handle it, glass fiber shards can get into the skin, causing severe irritation and itching (contact dermatitis). If you frequently or occasionally come into contact with glass fiber, you will experience this problem. However, you can reduce the irritation and itching with the right steps.
Part 1 of 3: Treating Symptoms on Contact with Glass Fibers
Step 1. Do not scratch or rub the affected area
Glass fiber can cause severe itching on the skin, and it can be tempting to scratch it. However, doing so can allow the fibers to penetrate deeper into the skin, making your problem worse.
Step 2. Immediately remove the clothes you are wearing carefully when you come into contact with glass fiber
Separate from other clothes and wash separately. This can prevent the glass fibers from spreading and causing irritation.
Step 3. Wash your skin if it comes into contact with glass fiber
If you see, feel, or suspect that your skin has come into contact with fiberglass, wash the affected area immediately. If you experience itching and irritation, wash the affected area using mild soap and warm running water.
- You can use a very soft washcloth to remove the lint.
- If fiberglass gets in your eyes, flush your eyes with water for at least 15 minutes.
Step 4. Remove all visible lint
If there are fibers sticking out from under the skin, try to pick them up carefully. This can help stop irritation
- First, wash your hands and clean the affected area with soap and water (if you haven't already).
- Sterilize the tweezers by rubbing them with alcohol. Then, use it to clean the lint.
- You can use a magnifying glass to help find small fibers.
- If there are lint that cannot be easily removed with tweezers, sterilize a sharp, clean needle by rubbing it with rubbing alcohol. Use the needle to pick up or scrape the skin that is embedded in the fiber. Then, use sterile tweezers to clean it.
- Squeeze the area gently so the germs will flow out with the blood. Wash the area again and apply an antibiotic cream.
- If any fibers go deep under the skin, go to the doctor and don't try to remove them yourself.
Step 5. Use cream to soothe the skin
After the glass fiber affected area has been washed, apply a good quality skin cream to the area. This can help soothe and moisturize the skin, thereby reducing irritation. You can also apply an over-the-counter anti-itch cream to help speed healing.
Part 2 of 3: Monitoring and Preventing Cross-Contamination
Step 1. Wash clothes and other items that may have come into contact with glass fibers
Remove all clothing that you wear when it comes into contact with fiberglass, and separate it from other clothing. Wash the clothes as soon as possible in a separate place from other clothes. This can prevent the remaining fibers from spreading and causing irritation.
- If a lot of lint is stuck to the clothes, soak them before washing them. This can help loosen the fibers and keep them off the clothes.
- After washing clothes with glass fibers, clean your washing machine before using it to wash other clothes. This will rinse out any lint that might have gotten stuck in the washer so they don't spread to other clothes.
Step 2. Clean your workplace
If you come into contact with glass fiber while working on something that involves the material, immediately remove all glass fiber residue from your workplace. This can prevent another reaction to the material.
- Use a vacuum cleaner to remove glass fiber debris, not a dry broom (can make glass fiber particles fly in the air).
- Wear protective clothing, goggles, and a mask or respirator (a device that covers your nose or mouth to help you breathe) when cleaning to prevent particles from getting into your eyes, skin, or lungs.
Step 3. Pay attention to the affected area
Although it can be painful and annoying when you are exposed to fiberglass, the symptoms will soon lessen if you follow the proper steps to treat it. However, if the itching and irritation persists, see a doctor.
Part 3 of 3: Preventing Irritation from Glass Fibers
Step 1. Wear proper clothing when handling fiberglass
Whenever you handle or know that you will be exposed to glass fiber, wear protective clothing. You can protect your leather from lint by wearing long-sleeved shirts, pants, tight-fitting shoes, and gloves. Try to cover the body as much as possible.
Protect yourself from inhaling airborne particles containing glass fibers by wearing a respirator or face mask
Step 2. Keep your work area clean and well ventilated
If you're working with fiberglass, your workspace should have good airflow to prevent debris from getting trapped in the room and sticking to your skin or clothing. This will also prevent you from inhaling it.
- Separate work clothes from other clothes.
- Do not eat, drink, or smoke when handling glass fiber. This can cause glass fiber particles to be accidentally swallowed or inhaled.
- If there are symptoms of irritation caused by glass fiber, stop your work and treat the irritation first before you return to work.
Step 3. Take a shower after handling fiberglass
Take a shower as soon as possible after handling or exposure to fiberglass, even if you don't feel any itching or irritation. This can help wash away any lint particles that may have stuck to your skin, but haven't had a reaction yet.
If you haven't had any reactions yet, take a cold shower to rinse away the glass fiber particles adhering to the skin, keep the pores closed, and remove the fiber particles from the skin pores
Step 4. Talk to your doctor about your concerns related to glass fiber exposure
If you are not sure about the symptoms, or do not know whether you have been exposed to glass fiber or not, consult a doctor.
Some people may have resistance to exposure to glass fiber at one time so it does not cause irritation as usual. However, this doesn't mean you don't have skin or lung problems. Therefore, always be careful when handling glass fiber
- Glass fiber is not always considered a carcinogen (cancer-causing). However, this does not mean that glass fiber cannot cause skin and lung problems. Always be careful when handling this material.
- Symptoms that arise from exposure to glass fiber usually won't last long, and you don't have to worry too much if you come into contact with glass fiber occasionally. However, if your work always involves this material, you must be very careful when handling it. Read the appendix to the safety instructions that came with fiberglass, and consult a doctor if you have any problems or have questions.