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Shaving cream poisoning

Shaving cream is a cream applied to the face or body before shaving the skin. Shaving cream poisoning occurs when someone eats shaving cream. This can be by accident or on purpose.

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.

Poisonous Ingredient

The ingredients in shaving cream that can be harmful are:

  • Anionic surfactants (soaps)
  • Nonionic surfactants (soaps)

Symptoms

Shaving cream is not very poisonous. Most symptoms are from allergic reactions or if shaving cream touches the eyes. Symptoms may include:

  • Blurred vision
  • Breathing difficulty
  • Burning pain in the throat
  • Burns to the eye
  • Diarrhea (watery, bloody)
  • Stomach pain
  • Rash
  • Vomiting

Home Care

Seek medical help right away. DO NOT make the person throw up unless poison control or a health care provider tells you to.

If the person swallowed shaving cream, give them water or milk right away, unless a provider tells you not to. DO NOT give anything to drink if the person has symptoms that make it hard to swallow. These include vomiting, convulsions, or a decreased level of alertness.

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

Poison Control

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. This hotline number will let you talk to experts in poisoning. 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 shaving cream 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:

  • Breathing support, including a tube through the mouth into the lungs, and a breathing machine (ventilator)
  • Chest x-ray
  • Fluids through a vein (by IV)
  • Medicine to treat symptoms
  • Laxatives
  • Tube through the mouth into the stomach to wash out the stomach (gastric lavage)

Outlook (Prognosis)

How well someone does depends on how much shaving cream they swallowed or got in their eyes, and how quickly they receive treatment. The faster medical help is given, the better the chance for recovery.

Shaving cream is not very toxic, so recovery is very likely.

Alternative Names

Shaving lotion poisoning

References

Zosel AE. General approach to the poisoned patient. In: Adams JG, ed. Emergency Medicine. 2nd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2013:chap 143.

Review Date 10/18/2015

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.

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