×

Please Remove Adblock
Adverts are the main source of Revenue for DoveMed. Please remove adblock to help us create the best medical content found on the Internet.

First Aid for Hair Tonic Poisoning

Last updated Feb. 28, 2018

Approved by: Krish Tangella MD, MBA, FCAP

Hair Tonic Poisoning is the accidental or intentional intake of any hair tonic products.


What is Hair Tonic Poisoning?

  • Hair tonic is a grooming product that is used to style hair. It consists of a complex mix of chemicals and oils
  • Hair Tonic Poisoning is the accidental or intentional intake of any hair tonic products
  • 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)

Hair Tonic Poisoning may be also referred to as Hair Tonic Toxicity.

What are the Causes of Hair Tonic Poisoning?

  • Hair Tonic Poisoning is caused by the ingestion or inhalation of hair tonic compounds. Exposure of the eye to the substance may cause injury too
  • This intake could be accidental, or in some cases intentional, to bring self-harm
  • The chemicals in hair tonic that may cause toxicity include mineral oil, ethyl alcohol, and other compounds

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 Hair Tonic Poisoning?

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

  • Vision abnormalities including blurred vision, if the substance affects the eye
  • Burning pain in the mouth, throat, and in the food-pipe; the pain may be severe
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Speaking difficulties
  • Vomiting
  • Urination difficulties
  • Finding it difficult to walk
  • Low response level, confusion, and coma when significant amounts of the substance are ingested/inhaled

How is First Aid administered for Hair Tonic Poisoning?

First Aid tips for Hair Tonic 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
  • 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
  • If skin exposure or involvement of the eye has occurred, then wash thoroughly with copious amounts of water (for at least 15 minutes)
  • 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:

  • Gastric lavage for elimination of the substance from the stomach (irrigation using special solutions)
  • 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
  • Administer fluids by an intravenous drip line
  • 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

Who should administer First Aid for Hair Tonic Poisoning?

First aid for Hair Tonic 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 Hair Tonic Poisoning?

  • The prognosis of Hair Tonic 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
  • Consuming a large quantity of alcohol-based hair tonic may result in severe symptoms including liver failure

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 Hair Tonic Poisoning be Prevented?

Hair Tonic 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 or using 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: July 30, 2017
Last updated: Feb. 28, 2018