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First Aid for Paraffin Wax Poisoning

Last updated March 2, 2018

Approved by: Maulik P. Purohit MD, MPH

Paraffin Wax Poisoning is the accidental or intentional intake (consumption) of paraffin wax.

What is Paraffin Wax Poisoning?

  • Paraffin wax is obtained from petroleum (specifically from lubricating oil) and is a colorless-to-white waxy substance. It has no smell or taste
  • Paraffin wax is used in making candles, crayons, waterproofing paper, certain preservatives, and finds usage in spa baths for arthritis
  • Paraffin Wax Poisoning is the accidental or intentional intake (consumption) of paraffin wax
  • 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)

Paraffin Wax Poisoning may be also referred to as Paraffin Wax Toxicity.

What are the Causes of Paraffin Wax Poisoning?

  • Paraffin Wax Poisoning is caused by eating or swallowing paraffin wax products (such as candles or crayons)
  • This intake could be accidental, or in some cases intentional, to bring self-harm
  • Generally, paraffin wax is a non-toxic substance; however, certain compounds and synthetic chemicals/colors added to paraffin wax products may be toxic

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 Paraffin Wax Poisoning?

The signs and symptoms of Paraffin Wax 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
  • Stomach and abdominal pain
  • Obstruction of the bowel, if significant quantities are consumed
  • Constipation
  • Severe allergic reaction due to other chemicals present in the ingested substance

How is First Aid administered for Paraffin Wax Poisoning?

First Aid tips for Paraffin Wax 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 pieces; wipe mouth with a wet cloth
  • 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 substance to the ER

Generally, Paraffin Wax 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:

  • Monitor vital signs
  • Medically manage symptoms and provide breathing support, if necessary
  • Administer mild laxatives for elimination of the compound from the body
  • Administer fluids by an intravenous drip line, if necessary

Who should administer First Aid for Paraffin Wax Poisoning?

First aid for Paraffin Wax 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 Paraffin Wax Poisoning?

  • The prognosis of Paraffin Wax 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
  • Paraffin wax is a non-poisonous substance, and hence, the condition is not very dangerous. In a 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 Paraffin Wax Poisoning be Prevented?

Paraffin Wax Poisoning can be prevented by:

  • Keeping cosmetics, medications, and other household 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 necessary
  • 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 and quantity of substance ingested
    • 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. 4, 2017
Last updated: March 2, 2018