Hand lotion poisoning

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Definition

Hand lotion poisoning occurs when someone swallows hand lotion or hand cream.

This article is for information only. DO NOT use it to treat or manage an actual poison exposure. If you or someone you are with has an exposure, call your local emergency number (such as 911), or your local poison center can be reached directly by calling the national toll-free Poison Help hotline (1-800-222-1222) from anywhere in the United States.

Alternative Names

Hand cream poisoning

Poisonous Ingredient

These ingredients in hand lotion or cream can be harmful if swallowed:

  • Dimethicone
  • Mineral oil
  • Paraffins (waxes)
  • Petrolatum
  • Various alcohols

Where Found

Various hand lotions and creams contain these ingredients.

Symptoms

Symptoms of hand lotion poisoning include:

Home Care

Seek medical help right away. DO NOT make the person throw up unless poison control or a health care provider tells you to. Give the person water or milk right away, unless a provider tells you not to. DO NOT give anything to drink if the person has symptoms that make it hard to swallow. These include:

  • Vomiting
  • Convulsions
  • A decreased level of alertness

Before Calling Emergency

Have this information ready:

  • Person's age, weight, and condition
  • Name of the product (ingredients, if known)
  • Time it was swallowed
  • Amount swallowed

Poison Control

Your local poison center can be reached directly by calling the national toll-free Poison Help hotline (1-800-222-1222) from anywhere in the United States. They will give you further instructions.

This is a free and confidential service. All local poison control centers in the United States use this national number. You should call if you have any questions about poisoning or poison prevention. It does NOT need to be an emergency. You can call for any reason, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

What to Expect at the Emergency Room

Take the container with you to the hospital, if possible.

The provider will measure and monitor the person's vital signs, including temperature, pulse, breathing rate, and blood pressure. Symptoms will be treated.

The person may receive:

  • Blood and urine tests
  • Activated charcoal
  • Breathing support
  • Fluids through a vein (by IV)
  • Laxatives
  • Medicine to treat the effects of the poison
  • Tube through the mouth into the stomach to wash out the stomach

Outlook (Prognosis)

How well someone does depends on how much hand lotion they swallowed and how quickly they receive treatment. The faster medical help is given, the better the chance for recovery.

These products are not very poisonous, and recovery is very likely.

References

Caraccio TR, McFee RB. Cosmetics and toilet articles. In: Shannon MW, Borron SW, Burns MJ, eds. Haddad and Winchester's Clinical Management of Poisoning and Drug Overdose. 4th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2007:chap 100.

Zosel AE. General approach to the poisoned patient. In: Adams JG, ed. Emergency Medicine. 2nd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2013:chap 143.

Version Info

  • Last reviewed on 10/16/2015
  • Jacob L. Heller, MD, MHA, Emergency Medicine, Virginia Mason Medical Center, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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