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First Aid for Furniture Polish Poisoning

Last updated Feb. 27, 2018

Approved by: Krish Tangella MD, MBA, FCAP

Furniture Polish Poisoning is the accidental or intentional intake (via swallowing, breathing-in, or skin contact) of furniture polish.

What is Furniture Polish Poisoning?

  • Furniture polishes or wood polishes are a variety of solvents, pastes, lotions, and sprays that are used to polish and shine or restore wood and wood products (including furniture). These may be homemade, or purchased from a store
  • Furniture Polish Poisoning is the accidental or intentional intake (via swallowing, breathing-in, or skin contact) of furniture polish
  • 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)

Furniture Polish Poisoning may be also referred to as Wood Polish Poisoning and Furniture Polish Toxicity.

What are the Causes of Furniture Polish Poisoning?

  • Furniture Polish Poisoning is caused by swallowing or ingesting furniture polish. An exposure may also occur following the inhalation of furniture polish vapors, or if it gets sprayed into the eye
  • This intake could be accidental, or in some cases intentional, to bring self-harm
  • Furniture Polishes can be a toxic mix of polishing agents (such as waxes and oils), solvents (spirits and naphtha), emulsifiers, propellants, and other additives (compounds for adding color and fragrance to wood polish)

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 Furniture Polish Poisoning?

The signs and symptoms of Furniture Polish 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 digestive system, nervous system, vascular system, respiratory system, skin and ENT may be affected.

The signs and symptoms of Furniture Polish Poisoning may include:

  • If the product is inhaled, it may lead to:
    • Fever and lethargy
    • Asphyxiation, due to lack of oxygen
    • Breathing difficulties, if the fumes of the solution are inhaled
  • If the product is swallowed, it may lead to:
    • Severe stomach/abdominal pain
    • Blood in stool
    • Vomiting (blood in vomit)
    • Sudden decrease in blood pressure (hypotension)
    • Feeling dizzy, lack of coordinated movement
    • Low level of alertness, confusion
    • Shock
    • Seizures
    • Collapse and coma
  • When the skin is affected, it can lead to:
    • Severe pain in the mouth, throat, and food-pipe (even the stomach may be burnt)
    • Severe skin irritation and burns (perforations on the skin may be observed in some cases)
    • If the solution affects the eye, it can lead to blindness

In case of severe complications due to inhalation of the fumes, the following may be observed:

  • Lung inflammation
  • Pleural effusion
  • Respiratory failure
  • Hemorrhagic lung edema (bleeding in the lungs)
  • Lung collapse (pneumothorax)
  • Development of secondary infections including pneumonia
  • Brain damage from reduced oxygen supply to the brain

How is First Aid administered for Furniture Polish Poisoning?

First Aid tips for Furniture Polish 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; move them to region of fresh air immediately
  • Confirm that the airways are protected; also, ensure breathing and the presence of pulse
  • 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
  • If eye exposure has occurred, then wash the eye thoroughly with copious amounts of water (for about 15 minutes)
  • Take individual to emergency room (ER) for further treatment
  • Always try to take the compound bottle/container to the ER

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

  • Monitor vital signs
  • Medically manage symptoms and provide breathing support, if necessary
  • Gastric lavage for elimination of the substance from the stomach (irrigation using special solutions)
  • Administer fluids by an intravenous drip line, if necessary
  • 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

Who should administer First Aid for Furniture Polish Poisoning?

First aid for Furniture Polish 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 Furniture Polish Poisoning?

  • The prognosis of Furniture Polish 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 can be good. In case of complications, such as aspiration of the substance into the lungs, the prognosis may be adversely affected
  • Generally, wood polishes are dangerous substances to swallow. Their poisoning effect may be severe and multiple organ systems of the body may be affected; also, the damaging effect of the liquid may continue long after exposure is ceased

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 Furniture Polish Poisoning be Prevented?

Furniture Polish Poisoning can be prevented by:

  • Always following instructions for usage of any household products
  • Keep all poisons correctly labeled and in suitable storage locations
  • Wearing appropriate protective wear when working with such chemicals
  • Keeping any poisonous/hazardous chemicals and other materials out of children’s reach
  • 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: Feb. 27, 2018