Face powder poisoning
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Face powder poisoning occurs when someone swallows or breathes in this substance.
This is for information only and not for use in the treatment or management of an actual poison exposure. If you have an exposure, you should call your local emergency number (such as 911) or the National Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222.
- Baking soda
- Talcum powder
- Many other types of powder
Note: This list may not include all sources of face powder.
- Abdominal pain
- Blurred vision
- Breathing difficulty
- Burning pain in the throat
- Burns to the eye (if you get it in your eye)
- Diarrhea (watery, bloody)
Seek immediate medical help. Do NOT make a person throw up unless told to do so by Poison Control or a health care professional.
If the substance was swallowed, immediately give the person water or milk, unless instructed otherwise by a health care provider. Do NOT give water or milk if the patient is having symptoms (such as vomiting, convulsions, or a decreased level of alertness) that make it hard to swallow.
If the person breathed in the substance, immediately move him or her to fresh air.
Before Calling Emergency
Determine the following information:
- Patient's age, weight, and condition
- Name of the product (ingredients and strengths, if known)
- Time it was swallowed
- Amount swallowed
Poison Control, or a Local Emergency Number
The National Poison Control Center (1-800-222-1222) can be called from anywhere in the United States. This national hotline number will let you talk to experts in poisoning. They will give you further instructions.
This is a free and confidential service. All local poison control centers in the United States use this national number. You should call if you have any questions about poisoning or poison prevention. It does NOT need to be an emergency. You can call for any reason, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
See: Poison control center - emergency number
What to Expect at the Emergency Room
The health care provider will measure and monitor your vital signs, including temperature, pulse, breathing rate, and blood pressure. Symptoms will be treated as appropriate. You may receive:
- Activated charcoal
- Breathing support, including a tube through the mouth into the lungs and a breathing machine (ventilator)
- Chest x-ray
- Fluids through a vein (by IV)
- Medications to treat symptoms
- Tube through the mouth into the stomach to wash out the stomach (gastric lavage)
If the poisoning is severe, you may be admitted to the hospital.
How well you do depends on the amount of poison swallowed and how quickly treatment is received. The faster you get medical help, the better the chance is for recovery.
These products are not considered very toxic, so recovery is very likely.
Sue YJ, Pinkert H. Baby powder, borates, and camphor. In: Shannon MW, Borron SW, Burns MJ, eds. Haddad and Winchester's Clinical Management of Poisoning and Drug Overdose. 4th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders Elsevier; 2007:chap 99.
- Last reviewed on 1/20/2014
- Jacob L. Heller, MD, MHA, Emergency Medicine, Virginia Mason Medical Center, Seattle, Washington. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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