Cutaneous Radiation Injury (CRI)
Cutaneous Radiation Injury (CRI) happens when exposure to a large dose of radiation causes injury to the skin. A doctor will suspect the presence of a CRI when a skin burn develops on a person who was not exposed to a source of heat, electrical current, or chemicals.
People may experience a Cutaneous Radiation Injury (CRI) when:
- They are exposed to certain types of radioactive materials that give off beta particles or penetrating gamma radiation or low-energy x-rays.
- They experience Acute Radiation Syndrome (ARS); however, not everyone who develops CRI will have ARS.
Symptoms of CRI
- Symptoms of CRI can appear from a few hours to several days after exposure.
- The early signs and symptoms of CRI include:
- Skin redness (erythema)
- Swelling caused by a buildup of fluid (edema)
- Over time, other symptoms may develop depending on the site of the injury and the level of radiation dose to which the skin was exposed.
Treatment of CRI
- After a radiation emergency, if you experience these symptoms, seek medical attention as soon as emergency officials say it is safe to do so.
- If you cannot get medical attention quickly, gently rinse the area with water. Keep the area clean, dry, and covered until a doctor can provide additional treatment.
- Page last updated August 8, 2014
- Page last reviewed August 22, 2013
- Content source: Radiation Studies Branch (RSB), Division of Environmental Hazards and Health Effects (EHHE), National Center for Environmental Health (NCEH), Coordinating Center for Environmental Health and Injury Prevention (CCEHIP)
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