Acid can quickly destroy the eyes, blinding the victim. Skin and bone on the skull, forehead, cheeks and chin may dissolve. When the acid splashes or drips over the neck, chest, back, arms or legs, it burns every inch of the skin it falls on. The biggest, most immediate danger for victims is breathing failure. Inhalation of acid vapours can create breathing problems in two ways: (a) by causing a poisonous reaction in the lungs, or (b) by making the neck swell up, which constricts the airway and asphyxiates the victim.
When the burns from an acid attack heal, they form thick scars which pull the skin very tight and can cause disfigurement. For instance, the eyelids may no longer close, the mouth may no longer open, and the chin becomes welded to the chest.
Following are details on the physical consequences :
- Skull : May be partly destroyed or deformed. Hair is often lost.
- Forehead : Skin may shrink, as though stretched tightly, and be scarred.
- Ears : May be Shrivelled up and deformed. Deafness may occur immediately or later. Cartilage in the ear is usually partly or totally destroyed, exposing the victim to future infection and hearing loss.
- Eyes : Direct acid contact or acid vapours can damage the eyes, causing blindness. Even if the eyes survive the acid attack, they remain vulnerable to other threats which can cause blindness during the victim’s recovery. Eyelids may be burned off, or may be deformed by scarring, leaving the eyes to dry up and go blind. This is very difficult to prevent.
- Nose : May become Shrunken and deformed. Nostrils may close completely because the cartilage is destroyed.
- Cheeks : May be Scarred and deformed.
- Mouth : Shrunken and narrowed, may lose its shape. Lips may be partly or totally destroyed. Lips may be permanently flared, exposing the teeth. Movement of the lips, mouth and face may be impaired. Eating can be difficult.
- Chin : Gets Scarred and deformed. The scars may run downward, welding the chin to the neck or chest
- Neck : It is often badly damaged. It may have a thick cord of scarred flesh running down from the chin to the upper chest, or a wide, heavily scarred area on one side of the neck. The victim may be unable to extend the neck, or the head may constantly lean to one side.
- Chest : Often gets badly scarred. The chest may have narrow lines of scars or wide patches of scars from acid splashes or drips. In girls and young women, the development of breasts ceases, or their breasts may be destroyed completely.
- Shoulder : May be badly scarred, especially around the underarm, which may limit the victim’s arm movement. In some cases, one or both of the victim’s upper arms may be stuck like glue to the sides of their body.