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Beeswax poisoning

Beeswax is wax from the honeycomb of bees. Beeswax poisoning occurs when someone swallows beeswax.

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

Beeswax can be harmful if it is swallowed.

Where Found

Sources of beeswax are:

  • Beeswax itself
  • Some candles
  • Some ointments applied to the skin

Symptoms

Beeswax is considered nonpoisonous, but it may cause a blockage in the intestines if someone swallows a large amount. If an ointment is swallowed, the medicine component may also cause side effects or poisoning.

Home Care

DO NOT make a 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
  • Time the beeswax 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

The person may not need to go to the emergency room.

If they do go, the provider will measure and monitor their vital signs, including temperature, pulse, breathing rate, and blood pressure. Symptoms will be treated.

The provider may give the person a laxative. This will help move the wax quickly through the intestines and help prevent a bowel blockage.

Outlook (Prognosis)

Since beeswax is considered fairly nonpoisonous, recovery is very likely.

How well someone does depends on how much beeswax they swallowed and how quickly they receive treatment.

References

Davison K, Frank BL. Ethnobotany: plant-derived medical therapy. In: Auerbach PS, Cushing TA, eds. Auerbach's Wilderness Medicine. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2017:chap 68.

Meehan TJ. Approach to the poisoned patient. In: Walls RM, Hockberger RS, Gausche-Hill M, eds. Rosen's Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice. 9th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2018:chap 139.

Review Date 10/3/2019

Updated by: Jesse Borke, MD, FACEP, FAAEM, Attending Physician at FDR Medical Services/Millard Fillmore Suburban Hospital, Buffalo, NY. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.