Can you eat baby powder?

In this short article, we will provide an answer to the question “can you eat baby powder?”, along with the alternatives to the baby powder. 

Can you eat baby powder?

No, you cannot eat baby powder.

Powders containing talc can be toxic if breathed in or swallowed. Swallowing can upset the stomach and cause diarrhea.(1) 

Clinical features of talc inhalation could vary from minor symptoms like cough, sneezing to serious respiratory symptoms like dyspnea, cyanosis, or respiratory distress. 

In cases of mild to moderate inhalation of talc, the clinical features of respiratory distress could appear as late as a few hours.(2)

Less frequent chronic exposure to relatively large quantities of talc may result in pulmonary fibrosis.(3)

What is the composition of baby powder?

Baby powder is made from talc, a mineral made up mainly of magnesium, silicon, and oxygen. Talc is a mineral widely distributed, geologically, in various parts of the world. 

When mined, it often contains contaminating minerals such as crystalline silica and tremolite asbestos, which contribute to pulmonary damage in miners. 

As a powder, it is an excellent moisture absorber, and helps cut down on friction, making it useful for keeping skin dry and helping to prevent rashes.Talc products available in the US are asbestos free.(3, 4)

What happens when you inhale baby powder?

When inhaled, water-insoluble talc dries up the mucous membranes of the tracheobronchial tree.It inhibits the clearing of the particulate matter in the airways by virtue of impairing the ciliary function of the mucosa.(3) 

The talc powder could also result in mechanical obstruction of the smaller airways. In addition, the adsorption of the surfactant to the magnesium silicate powder would add to the pulmonary injury. 

The pathological changes seen include edema, inflammation of the bronchial epithelium, pneumonitis, bronchiolitis, diffuse infiltrates, and acute lung injury, which result in acute respiratory distress syndrome.

 The reported mortality in the cases of severe talc pulmonary toxicity ranged from 20 to 33% in few case series.(2)

What should you do if you accidentally ingest baby powder?

 The first thing to do in case of baby powder ingestion is wipe or rinse out the mouth and give a serving size of water to drink. Swallowing can upset the stomach and cause cough and diarrhea.

If you notice that your child has ingested some of these products, it is important not to panic. Take the product away from the child and wipe their mouth out with a soft wet cloth.

 You may give them some water to drink to get the taste out of their mouth. Do not try to induce vomiting. If it is on the skin, wash the exposed skin with soap and water to clean them up.

After you have removed your child from the situation, immediately seek medical assistance.Treatment recommendations are often determined by the amount ingested. (1)

What possible baby powder substitutes are available?

Baby Powder can be made from cornstarch or arrowroot, replacing talc.


Talcum powder may be substituted with cornstarch, which is widely available. Cornstarch is currently used in the majority of talcum powder producers’ formulas, and it has several advantages.

Arrowroot starch

People who eat arrowroot starch are much more likely than the general population to be intolerant to cornstarch. It is comparable to tapioca starch, which is derived from plants. As a result, purchasing arrowroot starch from a health food shop is the most convenient method of obtaining it.(1)


In this short article, we provided an answer to the question “can you eat baby powder?” Along with the alternatives to the baby powder. 


  1. Missouri Poison Center Baby Powder 2023
  2. Naik SB, Guruprasad M. Accidental Acute Talcum Powder Inhalation in an Adult: A Rare Case with a Short Review of Literature. Indian J Crit Care Med.;24(6): 490-491. 2020 
  3. Hollinger, M. A.  Pulmonary toxicity of inhaled and intravenous talc. Toxicology Letters, 52(2), 121–127. 1990.
  4. Nan, A.. Miscellaneous Drugs, Materials, Medical Devices and Techniques. A Worldwide Yearly Survey of New Data in Adverse Drug Reactions, 603–619. 2015