A caustic is defined by its ability to cause both histologic and functional damage upon contact with tissue surfaces. Some caustics have the potential to also cause systemic toxicity. Caustics are typically divided into acids and alkalis. Clinically, acidic and alkaline caustic ingestions present and are managed in a similar manner despite variance in the mechanism of injury. In the United States, alkali injuries are more common. In contrast, acid exposures occur more frequently in developing nations where strong acids are more readily available.10,11
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