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First Aid for Poinsettia Plant Poisoning

Last updated Feb. 28, 2018

Approved by: Maulik P. Purohit MD, MPH

Poinsettia Plant Poisoning is the accidental or intentional intake of the plant or plant product containing the compound. However, the toxicity of the poinsettia plant is reported to be mild.

What is Poinsettia Plant Poisoning?

  • Poinsettia (botanical name Euphorbia pulcherrima) is a bright red-colored plant that was once native to South America (Mexico). It is typically used as a decorative plant in many home gardens
  • Poinsettia Plant Poisoning is the accidental or intentional intake of the plant or plant product containing the compound. However, the toxicity of the poinsettia plant is reported to be mild
  • 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)

Poinsettia Plant Poisoning may be also referred to variously as the following:

  • Christmas Flower Poisoning
  • Euphorbia Pulcherrima Poisoning
  • Lobster Plant Poisoning
  • Painted Leaf Poisoning
  • Poinsettia Plant Toxicity

What are the Causes of Poinsettia Plant Poisoning?

  • Poinsettia Plant Poisoning is caused by eating poinsettia plant or plant products. The exposure may also occur following skin or eye contact
  • This intake could be accidental, or in some cases intentional, to bring self-harm
  • The toxic part of the plant is mainly the sap (due to the chemical diterpene ester); although, all parts of the plant (stem, leaves, etc.) may be poisonous

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 Poinsettia Plant Poisoning?

The signs and symptoms can vary from one individual to another. It may be mild in some and severe in others. The signs and symptoms of Poinsettia Plant Poisoning may include:

  • Sensitive individuals may show an allergic reaction on exposure to the plant
  • Mild skin irritation following contact with the plant; appearance of skin rashes
  • Nausea, vomiting
  • Abdominal pain
  • Contact with the eye may result in irritation, pain, redness, and watery eyes

How is First Aid administered for Poinsettia Plant Poisoning?

First Aid tips for Poinsettia Plant 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
  • Clean the mouth to remove any remaining pieces; wipe mouth with a wet cloth
  • If skin exposure or involvement of the eye has occurred, then wash thoroughly with copious amounts of water (for at least 15 minutes)
  • Take individual to emergency room (ER) for further treatment
  • Always try to take the plant or plant product to the ER

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

The emergency medical health professional might perform the following steps towards treating the condition:

  • Monitor vital signs
  • Medically manage symptoms and provide breathing support, if necessary
  • Wash skin and eyes repeatedly and thoroughly (irrigation), to eliminate any remaining hazardous compound
  • Administer fluids by an intravenous drip line, if necessary

Who should administer First Aid for Poinsettia Plant Poisoning?

First aid for Poinsettia Plant 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 Poinsettia Plant Poisoning?

  • The prognosis of Poinsettia Plant 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 that occur due to poisoning or skin contact, the outcome is generally good, with appropriate medication
  • Typically, a vast majority of poisoning cases due to poinsettia plant is mild and harmless

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 Poinsettia Plant Poisoning be Prevented?

Poinsettia Plant Poisoning can be prevented by:

  • Avoiding eating wild berries and plants, especially if you have no information about them
  • Following working in the garden or fields, hiking, or camping, always wash hands thoroughly, prior to eating anything
  • Always follow 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)

It is important to give your healthcare provider a complete list of prescription and non-prescription medications that are being currently taken. This will help them in assessing the possible drug interactions within various medications and help avoid/prevent accidental or unintentional toxic drug effects.

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: July 6, 2017
Last updated: Feb. 28, 2018