Aloe is an extract from the aloe plant. It is used in many skin care products. Aloe poisoning occurs when someone swallows this substance. However, aloe is not very poisonous.
This article is for information only. DO NOT use it to treat or manage an actual poison exposure. If you or someone you are with has an exposure, call your local emergency number (such as 911), or your local poison center can be reached directly by calling the national toll-free Poison Help hotline (1-800-222-1222) from anywhere in the United States.
The substances that can be harmful are:
Stop using the product.
Seek medical help right way. DO NOT make the person throw up unless poison control or a health care provider tells you to.
Before Calling Emergency
Have this information ready:
- Person's age, weight, and condition
- Name of the product (ingredients, if known)
- Time it was swallowed
- Amount swallowed
Your local poison center can be reached directly by calling the national toll-free Poison Help hotline (1-800-222-1222) from anywhere in the United States. 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.
What to Expect at the Emergency Room
Take the container with you to the hospital, if possible.
The provider will measure and monitor the person's vital signs, including temperature, pulse, breathing rate, and blood pressure. Symptoms will be treated.
The person may receive:
- Blood and urine tests
- Fluids by IV (through a vein)
- Medicines to treat symptoms
How well someone does depends on how much aloe they swallowed and how quickly they receive treatment. The faster medical help is given, the better the chance for recovery.
Aloe is not very poisonous. Treatment is usually not needed. However, if you swallow it, you will likely have diarrhea.
A small number of people have an allergic reaction to aloe, which can be dangerous. Get medical help if a rash, throat tightness, difficulty breathing, or chest pain develop.
Skin and sunburn treatments
Davison K, Marinelli R. Ethnobotany. In: Auerbach PS, ed. Wilderness Medicine. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Mosby; 2012: chap 66.
Murray MT. Aloe vera (Cape aloe). In: Pizzorno JE, Murray MT, eds. Textbook of Natural Medicine. 4th ed. St. Louis, MO: Elsevier; 2013:chap 64.
Smolinske SC, Daubert GP, Spoerke DG. Poisonous plants. In: Shannon MW, Borron SW, Burns MJ, eds. Haddad and Winchester's Clinical Management of Poisoning and Drug Overdose. 4th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2007:chap 24.
Update Date 10/16/2015
Updated by: Jacob L. Heller, MD, MHA, Emergency Medicine, Virginia Mason Medical Center, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.