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First Aid for Cold Wave Lotion Poisoning

Last updated March 2, 2018

Approved by: Maulik P. Purohit MD MPH

Cold wave lotion is a grooming product that is used to style hair through a process called cold perm. Cold Wave Lotion Poisoning is the accidental or intentional intake of any product containing the compound. An exposure can also take place when the lotion inadvertently affects the skin or eyes.


What is Cold Wave Lotion Poisoning?

  • Cold wave lotion is a grooming product that is used to style hair through a process called cold perm. The perm process is generally done at hairdressing salons and beauty parlors; however, home perm kits are also available for purchase at stores
  • Cold Wave Lotion Poisoning is the accidental or intentional intake of any product containing the compound. An exposure can also take place when the lotion inadvertently affects the skin or eyes
  • 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)

Cold Wave Lotion Poisoning may be also referred to variously as the following:

  • Cold Wave Lotion Toxicity
  • Thioglycolate Poisoning

What are the Causes of Cold Wave Lotion Poisoning?

  • Cold Wave Lotion Poisoning is caused by the ingestion or inhalation of cold wave lotions. Exposure of the eye or skin to the substance may cause injury too
  • This intake could be accidental, or in some cases intentional, to bring self-harm
  • Cold wave lotions are a complex mix of chemicals that include sodium thioglycolate and other neutralizing solutions containing hydrogen peroxide

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 Cold Wave Lotion Poisoning?

The signs and symptoms of Cold Wave Lotion Poisoning can vary from one individual to another. It may be mild in some and severe in others. The signs and symptoms may include:

  • Watering or redness of eyes; eye irritation
  • Blurred vision; damage to the cornea
  • Burning pain in the mouth, throat, and in the food-pipe
  • Skin irritation and rash (on exposure to skin); blister formation
  • Vomiting and/or diarrhea
  • Cramping stomach or abdominal pain
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Decrease in blood pressure (hypotension)
  • Reduced blood sugar or hypoglycemia causing weakness and lethargy
  • Headache and drowsiness
  • Bluish discoloration of lips and beneath fingernails

How is First Aid administered for Cold Wave Lotion Poisoning?

First Aid tips for Cold Wave Lotion 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
  • 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
  • Otherwise, following an ingestion of the substance, immediately give milk or water to drink
  • In case of symptoms that indicate difficulty in swallowing including vomiting or decreased alertness, do not give anything by way of mouth
  • Take individual to emergency room (ER) for further treatment
  • Always try to take the medication strip/bottle/container to the ER

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

  • Medically manage symptoms and provide breathing support, if necessary
  • Administer activated charcoal to avoid absorbance of the substance in the body
  • Administer laxatives for elimination of the substance from the body
  • Wash skin and eyes repeatedly and thoroughly (irrigation), to eliminate any remaining hazardous compound
  • Following this, a suitable skin or eye ointment may be used to treat the exposure
  • Surgical treatment for skin burns including removal of burnt skin
  • Administer fluids by an intravenous drip line

Who should administer First Aid for Cold Wave Lotion Poisoning?

First aid for Cold Wave Lotion 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 Cold Wave Lotion Poisoning?

  • The prognosis of Cold Wave Lotion 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, with appropriate medication and early support, the outcome is generally good. With prompt treatment, severe eye and skin exposure symptoms may be avoided
  • Perm solutions used at hair and beauty salons are stronger, and hence, may be more toxic than those provided as part of home perm kits. Therefore, injuries and poisoning from hair salon chemicals are more severe

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 Cold Wave Lotion Poisoning be Prevented?

Cold Wave Lotion Poisoning can be prevented by:

  • Always following 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
  • Using appropriate protective wear when working with such chemicals
  • Be 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: Aug. 4, 2017
Last updated: March 2, 2018