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First Aid for Hand Lotion Poisoning

Last updated March 2, 2018

Approved by: Maulik P. Purohit MD, MPH

Hand lotions and hand creams may be described as moisturizing creams that help keep the skin on the hands soft, smooth, supple, and hydrated. Some such creams may contain sunblock components. Hand Lotion Poisoning is the accidental or intentional intake (consumption) of hand creams and lotions.

What is Hand Lotion Poisoning?

  • Hand lotions and hand creams may be described as moisturizing creams that help keep the skin on the hands soft, smooth, supple, and hydrated. Some such creams may contain sunblock components
  • Some lotions and creams (used for face and neck, hands, and legs) are medicated and used for skin conditions that include rashes, allergies, acne, eczema, fungal infections such as athlete’s foot, etc.
  • Hand Lotion Poisoning is the accidental or intentional intake (consumption) of hand creams and lotions. Generally, these personal care products are considered non-toxic to minimally toxic
  • 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)

Hand Lotion Poisoning may be also referred to as the following:

  • Hand Cream Poisoning
  • Hand Lotion Toxicity

What are the Causes of Hand Lotion Poisoning?

  • Hand Lotion Poisoning is caused by ingesting or swallowing hand creams and hand lotions
  • This intake could be accidental, or in some cases intentional, to bring self-harm
  • Some of the constituents of the hand lotions that may be toxic include paraffin waxes, petroleum jelly, mineral oils, dimethicone (or polymethylsiloxane), and alcohol base

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 Hand Lotion Poisoning?

The signs and symptoms of Hand 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:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Obstruction of the bowel, if significant quantities are consumed
  • Stomach and abdominal pain or discomfort, in some cases
  • Eye irritation and redness, if the substance gets into the eyes

How is First Aid administered for Hand Lotion Poisoning?

First Aid tips for Hand Lotion Poisoning:

  • Call 911 or your local emergency help number, 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
  • Clean the mouth to remove any remaining compound; wipe mouth with a wet cloth
  • 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 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

Generally, Hand Lotion Poisoning is a non-serious condition. With appropriate and adequate home care, the individual may recover completely, without any severe symptoms being noted. 

In case of severe symptoms, emergency health care may be required. The emergency medical professional might perform the following steps towards treating the condition:

  • Medically manage symptoms and provide breathing support, if necessary
  • Gastric lavage for elimination of the substance from the stomach (irrigation using special solutions)
  • Administer activated charcoal to avoid absorbance of the substance in the body
  • Administer laxatives for elimination of the substance from the body
  • Wash eyes repeatedly and thoroughly (irrigation), to eliminate any remaining compound
  • Administer fluids by an intravenous drip line, if necessary

Who should administer First Aid for Hand Lotion Poisoning?

First aid for Hand 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 Hand Lotion Poisoning?

  • The prognosis of Hand 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
  • Hand lotions and moisturizing creams are typically non-poisonous; hence, the condition is not very dangerous. In a vast majority of cases, early recovery is reported

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 Hand Lotion Poisoning be Prevented?

Hand 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
  • 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: Aug. 2, 2017
Last updated: March 2, 2018