Fiberglass can be very harmful if it comes in direct contact with your skin. The sharp fibers can irritate your skin and cause severe damage if you do not remove them instantly. Read this article to explore how you can get fiberglass out of your skin. Keep scrolling!
In This Article
What Is Fiberglass?
Fiberglass is a type of plastic reinforced with glass fibers. The glass fibers are either arranged randomly or woven into place to create a glass cloth. Fiberglass is popular due to its flexibility, easy availability, and strength. It is sturdier and more durable than most metals. Fiberglass is weather-resistant, lightweight, non-reactive, non-conductive, and easy to mold into any shape or size.
Where Is Fiberglass Used?
Fiberglass has become an irreplaceable product in the aviation, boat-building, and automobile industries. It is useful in roofing, cladding, and making pipes and hot tubs. This versatile material is used for coating door surfaces and acts as a common insulator for homes. However, it is harmful for your health.
Why Is Exposure To Fiberglass Harmful?
The inhaled glass fibers can get trapped in the airways (1). Large fibers may restrict your upper airway, while smaller and finer ones can get inhaled deep into your lungs.
The defense mechanism of coughing and sneezing offers a degree of protection against these fibers. However, although the fibers in the upper airway can get cleared, the ones in your lungs will persist.
Here are the short-term and long-term effects of being exposed to fiberglass.
Direct contact or inhaling the fiberglass can cause skin irritation, itchiness, coughing, and sneezing. It can trigger asthma in case of exposure to high concentrations of fiberglass fibers. Short-term exposure to this material may lead to fiberglass dermatitis (2).
Long-term effects occur in people exposed to fiberglass due to their occupation. Anecdotal evidence suggests that fiberglass causes lung irritation and may trigger asthma and bronchitis-like conditions.
Why Does Fiberglass Burn Your Skin?
Most fibers are fine and can easily penetrate your skin when you come in direct contact. Instead of merely sticking to the surface, they enter the skin to cause irritation and rash. The pain caused by these splinters, also known as fiberglass itch, can be very troublesome.
The burning sensations can result in a severe skin injury if not attended immediately. Therefore, it is best to take the fiberglass out of your skin instead of allowing it to fester and form rashes.
Have you got fiberglass stuck in your skin? Don’t panic. Read on for a stepwise guide to safely remove it.
How To Safely Remove Fiberglass From Your Skin
1. Using A Tape
You Will Need
- Dark-colored tape
- Magnifying glass
- Mild soap
- Examine your skin surface with the magnifying glass and flashlight to understand the location of fiberglass splinters.
- Place the tape over the affected area and press firmly to ensure it gets stuck tightly.
- Once the splinters are adhered to the tape, gently peel off the tape.
- Re-examine your skin to check for the damage or any leftover splinters. You can gently rub your skin to feel for any sharpness.
- Repeat the procedure until you get them all.
- Cleanse your skin with a mild soap.
2. Plucking Method
You Will Need
- A pair of tweezers
- Mild soap
- Wash your skin with mild soap and water to remove any surface fibers and dust. Avoid rubbing the area to prevent fiberglass splinters from entering deeper into your skin.
- Under bright light, pluck out fiberglass from your skin gently with the tweezers.
- Check with your fingertip for any residual fibers.
- Use mild soap to wash your skin.
Note: This technique is effective only when the fiberglass splinters are close to the skin surface and visible to the naked eye.
3. Removing Fiberglass From Your Eyes
- Splash cold water to the eyes and let them drip dry in front of a fan.
- Use a clean pulverizing bottle to splash cold water at a right angle to your eyes.
Seek immediate medical attention if you notice any of the following signs.
When To Visit A Doctor
- Rashes around the affected region
- Severe itching and burning sensations
- Redness or inflammation
- Swelling or discoloration of the skin
- Scaliness and skin irritations
Fiberglass is all around you. It can easily pollute the environment during the manufacturing process or disposal. The next section discusses the potential sources of fiberglass exposure. Scroll down to know what they are.
How Can You Get Exposed To Fiberglass?
Any damage to the fiberglass materials can release sharp particles into the air. While the larger fibers may settle down, the finer ones become airborne like dust. You can then get exposed to these fiberglass pollutants by breathing, swallowing, or direct skin contact.
Occupational exposure is a common occurrence among construction workers and repairing personnel. People who constantly handle fiberglass materials while installing or removing the insulations are most affected. However, you can also get exposed to the fibers during the manufacturing process.
Non-occupational exposure can occur within your homes, offices, or schools. When the fiberglass materials get damaged during installation or disposal, the fragments can enter the surrounding air. The best way to avoid such exposure is by leaving the insulation in your walls and ceilings undisturbed.
You can minimize the risk of fiberglass exposure by following these simple precautions.
How Can You Limit Exposure To Fiberglass?
- Wear loose garments that can offer full-body coverage while working with fiberglass.
- Use gloves, closed-toe shoes, and eye gear to protect sensitive areas.
- Work in a well-ventilated room. This will help reduce the concentration of fiberglass in the air.
- Wash your hands after working with fiberglass.
- Wash your work clothes separately to prevent the transfer of fiberglass onto other clothes.
- Change your work clothes while interacting with your family.
- Do not leave your food and drinks open where there may be fiberglass in the air.
- Clean the floors using a vacuum with a HEPA filter to remove finer particles. Avoid sweeping fiberglass dust.
Although exposure to fiberglass is not life-threatening, you should immediately remove it from your skin to avoid fiberglass dermatitis and other conditions. Using tape or a pair of tweezers is an effective and easy method of removal. In addition, follow some precautions while working with fiberglass to reduce its exposure and protect your skin and eyes.
Frequently Asked Questions
Will fiberglass come out of the skin on its own?
Yes. However, there is a risk that not all of the fiberglass will come out. Letting those splinters stay on your skin for such a long time may cause an allergic reaction.
Does our body break down fiberglass?
No, our body is not capable of breaking down the fiberglass completely. Hence, it is best to remove the fibers from your skin and prevent any irritation.
How long does fiberglass itch last?
The itching sensation may start within a couple of days of exposure to fiberglass and last for a few weeks.
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- Pulmonary effects of exposure to fine fibreglass: irregular opacities and small airways obstruction
- Fiberglass dermatitis: clinical presentations