Can you get sick from eating lotion? (+7 tips)

In this article, we are going to answer the question, “can you get sick from eating lotion?”  

Can you get sick from eating lotion?

Yes, you can get sick from eating lotion. Although consuming small amounts of lotion is harmless, things can get serious if lotion is consumed in large quantities. It can cause a mild laxative effect when passing stools, accompanied by stomach ache.

Lotion and its harmful ingredients:

Lotions can be of all types- moisturizers, hand creams, medicated lotions like rash creams etc. A lotion is basically composed of oils and water and is used to smoothen the texture of skin as well as moisturize it. Additionally, it also contains fragrances, dyes and preservatives.

As most of these products are OTCs or over-the-counter medications that do not require prescription, they are generally considered harmless. However, recent studies have proved that many key ingredients in these lotions can pose serious health risks if consumed chronically or in large quantities. 

Typically, lotions can contain harmful ingredients like dimethicone, paraffin, petrolatum, alcohols and mineral oils. Medicated lotions can contain more ingredients which can be potentially more harmful upon ingestion. Some lotions can also contain zinc oxide and other metallic oxides, which are potential culprits of skin cancer.

Another poisonous ingredient of lotions is mercury. Many skin-lightening and anti-ageing creams contain mercury. Merely inhaling vapors of mercury released by the cream is hazardous to health, so one can imagine the effects of eating creams which contain mercury.

Harmful effects of lotion poisoning:

  1. Eating lotions by mistake, as typically done by kids, or intentionally to cause self-harm is usually not a cause of concern if done in small quantities. This is because lotions are considered non-toxic. However, consuming lotion in large quantities can have a negative effect upon the digestive system, causing symptoms like digestive distress, blockage in intestines, accompanied by diarrhoea, nausea, vomiting and stomach ache. 
  1. As most of the chemicals that are found in lotions are not thoroughly tested for their safety, it is unwise to eat lotions. Many of its ingredients like parabens are known to induce cancers and cause hormone malfunction in the body.
  1. Chemicals like sodium laureth and hydroquinone have been linked to disorders like birth defects, breast cancers, fertility issues and diabetes. 
  2. Triclosan and triclocarban are associated with malfunction of thyroid gland, leading to reproductive issues.
  1. Other ingredients like triethanolamine and oxybenzone are associated with allergies, causing asthma, respiratory distress, damaging the nervous system and impacting brain health.
  1. Ingredients like mercury can cause short-term effects like diarrhoea, vomiting, nausea, elevated blood pressure, increased heart rate and rashes on the skin. Chronic exposure to mercury can affect the brain and kidneys, impairing their functions. Consequently, senses like vision and hearing can also be affected.

Just applying lotions with these chemicals on the skin can lead to such issues, even though only 30% of the lotion gets absorbed by the skin and passes into our bloodstream. Imagine the damage done upon eating these lotions in large quantities. 

First aid for lotion poisoning:

  1. In case a child or an adult eats lotion in significant quantities, immediately call the medical help line and inform them of the incident. Provide them with details such as quantity eaten, time of ingestion, weight, age of the patient.
  1. Perform a check of pulse rate, and ensure that breathing is steady. Make sure that the airways are protected and do not allow their exposure to the lotion. 
  1. Call the Poison Control Centre to receive further instructions from them.
  1. Clean the mouth and thoroughly wash the tongue to remove any remaining amount of lotion. Wipe with a wet towel. 
  1. If instructed by a paramedic, try to induce vomiting, else skip this step.
  1. Following ingestion, give some milk or water to the poisoned individual to neutralize the effect of the lotion.
  1. In case the individual is displaying signs of decreased alertness, vomiting or difficulty in breathing, do not administer anything by the mouth. 
  1. Immediately take the individual to the ER if symptoms persist, for further treatment. 

Once the affected individual is taken to the ER, the medical professional may take the following steps to effectively treat them:

  1. Administer laxatives to eliminate the substance from the body. 
  1. They can also use activated charcoal to prevent the absorption of the substance by the body.
  1. Use methods like gastric lavage to eliminate the toxins from the body
  1. Put the individual on intravenous fluids, if needed. 

In this article, we have answered “can you get sick from eating lotion” as well as provided 7 first aid tips in case of eating lotion.

References:

  1. https://missouripoisoncenter.org/hand-body-lotion/#:~:text=Lotion%20is%20not%20toxic%20so,some%20lotion%2C%20do%20not%20panic.&text=Eating%20small%20amounts%20of%20lotion,possibility%20of%20a%20loose%20stool.\
  1. https://lunasealife.wordpress.com/2010/09/17/dont-eat-the-lotion/
  1. https://www.deseret.com/2016/8/2/20592868/your-skin-cream-may-be-making-you-sick#the-fda-is-warning-that-skin-creams-and-lighteners-made-in-other-countries-contains-an-ingredient-that-is-making-people-sick-families-with-pregnant-women-and-young-children-should-check-labels-for-words-that-look-like-mercury

Hi, I am Charlotte, I love cooking and in my previous life, I was a chef. I bring some of my experience to the recipes on this hub and answer your food questions.