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First Aid for Paint Remover Poisoning

Last updated March 2, 2018

Approved by: Krish Tangella MD, MBA, FCAP

Paint Remover Poisoning is the accidental or intentional intake of the compound. The intake may be through swallowing the liquid or inhaling vapors of such compounds.

What is Paint Remover Poisoning?

  • Paint removers are used for removing (or stripping off) old film coats from wood and metal surfaces, in order to prepare them to receive newer wood and metal coatings
  • Paint Remover Poisoning is the accidental or intentional intake of the compound. The intake may be through swallowing the liquid or inhaling vapors of such compounds
  • 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)

Paint Remover Poisoning may be also referred to as the following:

  • Paint Remover Toxicity
  • Paint Stripper Poisoning

What are the Causes of Paint Remover Poisoning?

  • Paint Remover Poisoning is caused by the ingestion (through inhalation or swallow) of paint remover solvents and agents. The chemical may also get into the eye, resulting in eye-related symptoms
  • This intake could be accidental, or in some cases intentional, to bring self-harm
  • The toxic ingredients contained in these chemical strippers are mostly organic solvents. Some of these are highly toxic in nature. Paint removers may contain methylene chloride (a potential carcinogen), toluene, methanol, ethanol, caustic soda, and many such toxic 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 Paint Remover Poisoning?

The signs and symptoms of Paint Remover 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, respiratory system, vascular system, urinary system, skin and ENT may be affected.

The signs and symptoms of Paint Remover Poisoning may include:

  • Severe burning and associated pain in the mouth, throat, and food-pipe; this may affect the nose, ears, and eyes
  • Throat inflammation may cause difficulty in swallowing, breathing
  • Severe skin burns with holes in the skin tissues
  • Bluish discoloration of lips and beneath fingernails
  • Respiratory difficulties, which may be severe if the chemical is inhaled; absence of breathing
  • Fluid or blood in the lungs
  • Urination difficulties (reduced urine production)
  • Headache
  • Nausea, vomiting (blood in vomit may be seen)
  • Bloody stools
  • Stomach and abdominal pain that may be severe and cramping
  • Irregular heart-rate
  • Sudden reduction in blood pressure (hypotension)
  • Change in blood pH levels, resulting in several organs being affected
  • Individuals act ‘drunk’ or confused
  • Vision abnormalities including vision loss
  • Renal failure
  • Collapse and coma

How is First Aid administered for Paint Remover Poisoning?

First Aid tips for Paint Remover 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
  • If exposure of the eye has occurred, then wash thoroughly with copious amounts of water. Any paint on skin may be washed away
  • Unless instructed by a healthcare professional, DO NOT induce vomiting in the affected individual
  • Following an ingestion of the substance, immediately give water or milk to drink
  • In case of symptoms that indicate difficulty in swallowing including vomiting or decreased alertness, do not give anything by way of mouth
  • 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:

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

Who should administer First Aid for Paint Remover Poisoning?

First aid for Paint Remover 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 Paint Remover Poisoning?

  • The prognosis of Paint Remover 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
  • Since, the ingredients of paint removers/strippers may be highly poisonous, the severity of damage to the body, and consequently the prognosis, is mostly based on the amount of chemical ingested/inhaled and promptness with which treatment is provided
  • In some cases, permanent injuries (including blindness) and deaths have been 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 Paint Remover Poisoning be Prevented?

Paint Remover Poisoning can be prevented by:

  • Always following instructions for usage of any household 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
  • Keep all poisons correctly labeled and in suitable storage locations
  • Using appropriate protective wear when working with such chemicals (such as face masks and hand gloves)
  • 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. 7, 2017
Last updated: March 2, 2018