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First Aid for Acetone Poisoning

Last updated July 9, 2017

Approved by: Maulik P. Purohit MD, MPH

Acetone Poisoning is the accidental or intentional intake (swallowing, breathing-in, or skin contact) of any product containing the compound.

What is Acetone Poisoning?

  • Acetone is an organic liquid with a distinctive odor. It is used as a cleaning solvent, for paint thinning, and has a variety of chemical and pharmaceutical lab applications
  • Acetone Poisoning is the accidental or intentional intake (swallowing, breathing-in, or skin contact) of any product containing the compound
  • Acetone is used in the manufacture of cleaning solvents, adhesives and glues, paint thinners, lacquers, nail polish removers, chemical peeling (cosmetic), in food packaging
  • The condition is diagnosed based upon the clinical history, combination of signs and symptoms, and additional tests (that may include, in some cases, radiological studies and laboratory tests)

Acetone Poisoning may be also referred to variously as the following:

  • Acetone Toxicity
  • Dimethyl Formaldehyde Poisoning
  • Dimethyl Ketone Poisoning
  • Nail Polish Remover Poisoning

What are the Causes of Acetone Poisoning?

  • Acetone Poisoning is caused by the ingestion, inhalation, or exposure of skin to acetone and acetone-based products
  • This intake could be accidental, or in some cases intentional, to bring self-harm
  • The toxic substance in acetone and acetone-based domestic and industrial compounds include dimethyl formaldehyde, dimethyl ketone, and acetone/propanone

Note: The compound can interact with other prescribed or non-prescribed medications in the body. Such interactions may enhance the therapeutic effects of other medications being taken, resulting in undesired side effects.

What are the Signs and Symptoms of Acetone Poisoning?

The signs and symptoms of Acetone Poisoning can vary from one individual to another. It may be mild in some and severe in others. Several systems of the body, such as the vascular system, digestive system, respiratory system, nervous system, and ENT may be affected.

The signs and symptoms of Acetone Poisoning may include:

  • Increased urinary frequency
  • Breathing difficulties; fruity odor in breath
  • Sweetness in the mouth
  • Reduced blood pressure (hypotension)
  • Feeling dizzy, lack of coordinated movement
  • Individuals act ‘drunk’ or confused
  • Stomach pain
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Low level of alertness
  • Collapse and coma

How is First Aid administered for Acetone Poisoning?

First Aid tips for Acetone Poisoning:

  • Call 911 or your local emergency help number immediately, for emergency assistance
  • Call the Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222 (or your local poison control center) for further instructions
  • Provide them with information such as the compound taken, quantity and time of ingestion, age, weight and general health status of affected individual
  • Carefully remove the individual from the exposure area
  • Confirm that the airways are protected; also, ensure breathing and the presence of pulse
  • If skin exposure or involvement of the eye has occurred, then wash thoroughly with copious amounts of water (for at least 15 minutes)
  • Unless instructed by a healthcare professional, DO NOT induce vomiting in the affected individual
  • Take individual to emergency room (ER) for further treatment
  • Always try to take the compound bottle/container to the ER

The emergency medical health professional might perform the following steps towards treating the condition:

  • Gastric lavage for elimination of the substance from the stomach (irrigation using special solutions)
  • Medically manage symptoms, such as abnormal heart rate
  • Provide breathing support, if necessary
  • Wash skin and eyes repeatedly and thoroughly (irrigation), to eliminate any remaining hazardous compound
  • Administer fluids by an intravenous drip line

Who should administer First Aid for Acetone Poisoning?

First aid for Acetone Poisoning is administered by healthcare professionals.

  • The individual who is affected, or someone near, should call 911 for emergency assistance (or the local emergency number)
  • They should also call the poison control center at 1-800-222-1222 (or the local poison control center) and follow instructions

What is the Prognosis of Acetone Poisoning?

  • The prognosis of Acetone Poisoning is dependent on the amount of substance consumed, time between consumption and treatment, severity of the symptoms, as well as general health status of the patient
  • If the individual can recover from the symptoms within 1-2 days, with appropriate medication and early support, the outcome is generally good. In many cases of small/mild intoxication with acetone, the outcome is good
  • In case of severe symptoms including abnormal heart rates and coma, it may considerably worsen the outcome. Children are affected much more than adults

In general, toxicities are common situations in the emergency departments. A majority of the cases are often not fatal, when appropriate treatment is given.

How can Acetone Poisoning be Prevented?

Acetone Poisoning can be prevented by:

  • Always follow instructions for usage of any health or cosmetic products
  • Keeping cosmetics, medications, and other healthcare products out of reach of children in child-proof containers
  • Keeping any poisonous/hazardous chemicals and other materials out of children’s reach
  • Keep all poisons correctly labeled and in suitable storage locations
  • Being aware of basic first aid steps in case of an emergency (such as inadvertent poisoning)

What are certain Crucial Steps to be followed?

  • Call 911 (or your local emergency number) for emergency assistance, if symptoms are life-threatening
  • Call Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222 (or the local poison control center) and follow the recommend steps
  • It would be helpful if the following information is readily available:
    • Type, amount and time of consumption of the substance
    • Age and weight of the individual
    • And, the overall health status of the individual

What are some Useful Resources for Additional Information?

References and Information Sources used for the Article:

Helpful Peer-Reviewed Medical Articles:

Reviewed and Approved by a member of the DoveMed Editorial Board
First uploaded: July 9, 2017
Last updated: July 9, 2017