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First Aid for Hydrogen Peroxide Poisoning

Last updated March 1, 2018

Approved by: Maulik P. Purohit MD, MPH

Hydrogen Peroxide 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 Hydrogen Peroxide Poisoning?

  • Hydrogen peroxide is a clear and unstable liquid with a sharp odor. It is a strong chemical that is found in many products including certain disinfectants, hair bleaches, and deodorants
  • Hydrogen Peroxide 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)

Hydrogen Peroxide Poisoning may be also referred to variously as the following:

  • Dioxidane Poisoning
  • Hydrogen Peroxide Toxicity
  • Oxidanyl Poisoning
  • Perhydroxic Acid Poisoning

What are the Causes of Hydrogen Peroxide Poisoning?

  • Hydrogen Peroxide Poisoning is caused by the ingestion or inhalation of hydrogen peroxide compounds or fumes. 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
  • Hydrogen peroxide may be mild (such as in home products) or concentrated (such as in industrial-grade products). The chemical is found in bleaching agents, contact lens cleaning solutions, and disinfectants

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 Hydrogen Peroxide Poisoning?

The signs and symptoms of Hydrogen Peroxide 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
  • Burning pain in the mouth, throat, and in the food-pipe; severe burns
  • Skin irritation (on exposure to skin); whitish skin patches
  • Vomiting (blood in vomit)
  • Cramping stomach or abdominal pain
  • Breathing difficulties and chest pain
  • Bluish discoloration of lips and beneath fingernails
  • In rare cases, seizures

How is First Aid administered for Hydrogen Peroxide Poisoning?

First Aid tips for Hydrogen Peroxide 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • Administer fluids by an intravenous drip line
  • Gastric tube, in case of gas pressure buildup in the stomach

Who should administer First Aid for Hydrogen Peroxide Poisoning?

First aid for Hydrogen Peroxide 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 Hydrogen Peroxide Poisoning?

  • The prognosis of Hydrogen Peroxide 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 prevented
  • Generally, household use compounds are low in hydrogen peroxide concentration levels than industrial-grade hydrogen peroxide chemical compounds (that are of higher concentration levels). They type of hydrogen peroxide product ingested also dictates the prognosis

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 Hydrogen Peroxide Poisoning be Prevented?

Hydrogen Peroxide Poisoning can be prevented by:

  • 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. 1, 2017
Last updated: March 1, 2018