Accidental poisoning by soap products occurs when a person comes in contact with soap products that contain strong chemicals. Contact often takes place through the eyes or mouth.

Products that can cause soap poisoning range from simple soaps to products containing a chemical called amine oxide. If these products are inhaled or swallowed, they can be highly toxic and even fatal.

If someone suspects that a person has been exposed to harmful chemicals and poisoned, they should call emergency medical services immediately or call their country’s National Poison Control Center (NPCC) as soon as possible. In the United States, the number to call is 1-800-222-1222.

Contents of this article:

Recognizing symptoms of poisoning

Woman holding stomach in pain.
Symptoms will vary depending on a number of factors. Symptoms can include stomach pain, vomiting, and a drop in blood pressure.

The signs or symptoms of soap poisoning will depend on:

  • the product
  • how much a person has swallowed or inhaled
  • how much contact there was with the product

Symptoms of soap poisoning may include:

  • difficulty breathing
  • swelling of the throat, lips, and tongue
  • chemical burns on the skin
  • vision loss, if the soap product has burned the eyes
  • gastrointestinal symptoms, including vomiting repeatedly or with blood
  • burns to the food pipe
  • severe stomach pain

What to do in an emergency

If an adult or child has swallowed a soap product, the first thing to do is call the NPCC. This service is free and confidential and offers expert advice and immediate support. It is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Once someone makes a call to the NPCC, a specialist will work with the caller on how to proceed. The specialist may advise going to the nearest emergency room or calling 911.

The NPCC and medical professionals need to know the type and amount of the soap product that caused the poisoning.

Vomiting should not be encouraged unless instructed by poison control or a medical professional. The NPCC may recommend drinking water or milk, but not for anyone who is vomiting, having a seizure, or experiencing any symptoms that make it hard to swallow.

When to call a doctor

Cleaning products.
Accidental poisoning by soap products is a risk with a broad range of different products, from laundry detergent to hand soap.

It is a good idea to seek out medical help if someone:

  • has swallowed more than a mouthful of soap product
  • is having symptoms of poisoning
  • is uncertain about what they have swallowed

Hand and body soaps are minimally poisonous in small amounts, but they may cause symptoms, including nausea, vomiting, and loose stools. People experiencing persistent symptoms of vomiting and diarrhea should go to the emergency room.

If someone has only consumed a small amount of soap, they should drink a few sips of water and see if any symptoms appear.

Any soap product that is not intended for cleaning the human body is poisonous if consumed. If someone has consumed a cleaning soap, it’s important to get immediate medical attention for that person….