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First Aid for Naphthalene Poisoning

Last updated Feb. 26, 2018

Approved by: Maulik P. Purohit MD, MPH

Naphthalene Poisoning is the accidental or intentional intake of the substance or products containing naphthalene.

What is Naphthalene Poisoning?

  • Naphthalene is a white solid substance with a distinctive odor. It is an organic compound that forms the main component of mothballs
  • Naphthalene is also used in the manufacturing of dyes, lubricants, fungicides, wood preservatives, synthetic resins, vermicides, and toilet deodorants
  • Naphthalene Poisoning is the accidental or intentional intake of the substance or products containing naphthalene
  • 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)

Naphthalene Poisoning may be also referred to variously as the following:

  • Albocarbon Poisoning
  • Antimite Poisoning
  • Camphor Tar Poisoning
  • Hexalene Poisoning
  • Moth Flakes Poisoning
  • Mothballs Poisoning
  • Naphthalene Toxicity
  • Naphthalin Poisoning
  • Naphthaline Poisoning
  • White Tar Poisoning

What are the Causes of Naphthalene Poisoning?

  • Naphthalene Poisoning is caused by intake of naphthalene containing compounds. The substance may be orally ingested, inhaled, or cause symptoms through skin and eye exposure (direct contact)
  • This intake could be accidental, or in some cases intentional, to bring self-harm
  • Naphthalene is a toxic substance that is available in the form of moth repellents, lavatory deodorizers, and compounds for industrial use

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 Naphthalene Poisoning?

The signs and symptoms of Naphthalene Poisoning can vary from one individual to another. It may be mild in some and severe in others. Several systems of the body may be affected.

The signs and symptoms of Naphthalene Poisoning may include:

  • Fever
  • Urination difficulties (decreased urine flow, pain during urination)
  • Blood in urine (hematuria)
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Rapid pulse and increased heart-rate
  • Decreased blood pressure (hypotension)
  • Stomach symptoms may be observed after a few days and may include:
    • Nausea, vomiting
    • Diarrhea
    • Stomach pain
  • Skin turns pale and yellow
  • Feeling drowsy, confused
  • Seizures
  • Coma

Individuals with the genetic condition glucose-6-phosphate deficiency disorder and certain other disorders affecting the kidney, liver, or blood, are at a higher risk for severe symptoms and complications.

How is First Aid administered for Naphthalene Poisoning?

First Aid tips for Naphthalene Poisoning:

  • If the individual with Naphthalene Poisoning is unconscious, or is experiencing life-threatening symptoms, call 911 (or your local emergency help number) immediately
  • 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
  • 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 health professional might perform the following steps towards treating the condition:

  • Medically manage symptoms, such as abnormal heart rate and seizures
  • Provide breathing support, if necessary
  • Administer suitable medication to counter the effects of the toxic substance
  • 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

Who should administer First Aid for Naphthalene Poisoning?

First aid for Naphthalene 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 Naphthalene Poisoning?

  • The prognosis of Naphthalene Poisoning is dependent on the amount of substance consumed, time between exposure 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 prompt medical support, the outcome can be good. In many cases, it may take a few weeks to months for recovery
  • In case of severe symptoms, such as seizures and coma, due to significant amounts of the substance being swallowed, the prognosis may be poor

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 Naphthalene Poisoning be Prevented?

Naphthalene 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
  • Keeping any poisonous/hazardous chemicals and other materials out of children’s reach
  • Wearing appropriate protective wear when working with such chemicals
  • Keep all poisons correctly labeled and in suitable storage locations
  • 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 intake 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. 26, 2018