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What Is Aftershave Poisoning?
Aftershave is a lotion, gel, or liquid that you can apply to
your face after shaving. It’s most often used by men. If swallowed, aftershave
can produce harmful effects. This is known as aftershave poisoning.
Most aftershaves contain isopropyl alcohol (isopropanol) or
ethyl alcohol. These ingredients are poisonous when swallowed. Other
ingredients vary by brand and product.
Aftershave poisoning usually occurs in small children who
accidentally drink aftershave. Some people who suffer from alcohol abuse may
also drink aftershave when other alcohol is unavailable to become intoxicated.
What Are the Symptoms of Aftershave Poisoning?
Common symptoms of aftershave poisoning include:
- decreased alertness
- muscle cramping
- low blood sugar
- abdominal pain
- loss of consciousness
- lowered body temperature
- low blood pressure
- racing heartbeat
- labored or slow breathing
- slurred speech
- difficulty walking
- difficulty swallowing
- difficulty urinating
Consuming isopropanol, a common ingredient in aftershave,
can also cause:
- lack of coordination
- diminished reflexes
Children who experience aftershave poisoning are at very
high risk of developing low blood sugar. Low blood sugar in children can cause
weakness, sleepiness, confusion, nausea, and irritability.
What to Do If You Think Someone Has Aftershave Poisoning
Get medical help immediately if your child shows signs of
poisoning. Call 911 or take them to an emergency room. Never try to make your
child vomit unless a medical professional asks you to do so.
It’s helpful to the 911 operator or poison control
specialist if you can provide the type and quantity of aftershave your child drank.
Bring the container of aftershave with you to the emergency room if you can. This
helps the healthcare provider determine the contents of the bottle and the
appropriate course of treatment.
If your child is having a seizure, roll them onto their
side and make sure their airway stays clear. Call 911 or take them to an
emergency room right away.
How Is Aftershave Poisoning Diagnosed?
If your child begins to show signs of poisoning, seek medical
treatment right away. Getting treatment as soon as possible can help prevent complications
that may cause permanent impairment and disability.
When your child is admitted to the emergency department, a
doctor will assess them. They will want to know your child’s age, weight, and
symptoms. They will also ask what kind of aftershave your child drank, how much
they drank, and when they drank it. If you’re able to bring the container of
aftershave with you, it will help your child’s doctor determine how much poison
How Is Aftershave Poisoning Treated?
If your child is diagnosed with aftershave poisoning, a
doctor or nurse will monitor their pulse, temperature, blood pressure, and
breathing rate. Your child may also receive oxygen and IV fluids. Activated
charcoal, dialysis, gastric lavage (stomach pumping), and laxatives are
generally no longer recommended in cases of isopropyl alcohol poisoning.
What Can Be Expected in the Long-Term?
The outcome of aftershave poisoning depends on how much aftershave
is swallowed, how early the poisoning is recognized, and how soon your child
receives treatment. Aftershave poisoning is rarely deadly. Less common but
potentially life-threatening complications include stomach bleeding, prolonged
seizures, and coma.
Once your child has been released from the hospital, rest
and a clear liquid diet (such as water, broth, or juices) can help them
Bathroom Baby-Proofing Tips to Prevent Aftershave Poisoning
It’s important to store all of your health and beauty
products, including aftershave, securely out of children’s reach. Don’t assume
that even if your baby can reach the bottle, they can’t open in. No bottle or
container top is so secure that a baby can’t open it. To baby-proof your
bathroom cabinets and drawers, try a baby lock.
There are a several options available that work depending on
the type of cabinet you want to secure. Magnetic
locks can be mounted inside your cabinets and drawers. Adhesive
latches are a cheap and less permanent way to secure cupboards, appliances,
and even the toilet.
Make sure you put your aftershave and other potentially
harmful products away again after using them. Don’t leave them out on a counter
where they’re within your child’s reach. When the bottle is empty and you’re
ready to discard it, be sure to rinse it thoroughly and throw it away safely.
If you’re traveling with small children, consider keeping your
bathroom kit secure with a small bathroom
bag with a lock. Just remember that your liquids may need to be separated
to get through security. If your vacation takes you to someone else’s house, be
sure to note where dangerous substances like aftershave are stored and ask if
they have placed any childproof locks on the medicine cabinet or bottles.
Calling Poison Control
The National Poison Control Center (NPCC) can provide
additional information about aftershave poisoning. You can call them from anywhere
in the United States at 800-222-1222. This service is free and confidential.
NPCC professionals are happy to answer questions about poisoning and poisoning
prevention. They are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.