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Ink remover poisoning

Ink remover is a chemical used to get out ink stains. Ink remover poisoning occurs when someone swallows this substance.

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

Poisonous ingredients include:

  • Drinking alcohol (ethanol)
  • Rubbing alcohol (isopropyl alcohol, which can be very poisonous if swallowed in large doses)
  • Wood alcohol (methanol, which is very poisonous)

Where Found

These ingredients can be found in:

  • Ink removers
  • Liquid bleaches

Note: This list may not include all sources of ink removers.

Symptoms

Symptoms from all types of alcohol poisoning may include:

  • Brain damage
  • Decreased breathing
  • Stupor
  • Unconsciousness

Methanol and isopropyl alcohol poisoning symptoms can occur in various parts of the body.

EYES, EARS, NOSE, AND THROAT 

GASTROINTESTINAL SYSTEM

  • Abdominal pain
  • Nausea
  • Severe bleeding and vomiting blood (hemorrhage)
  • Vomiting

HEART AND BLOOD

  • Low blood pressure
  • Severe change in the level of acid in the blood (pH balance), which leads to the failure of many organs
  • Weakness
  • Collapse

KIDNEYS

  • Kidney failure

LUNGS AND AIRWAYS

MUSCLES AND BONES

  • Leg cramps

NERVOUS SYSTEM

SKIN

  • Blue skin, lips, or fingernails (cyanosis)

Home Care

Get medical help right away. Do not make a person throw up unless told to do so by poison control or a health care professional.

If the chemical is on the skin or in the eyes, flush with lots of water for at least 15 minutes.

Before Calling Emergency

Get the following information:

  • Person's age, weight, and condition
  • Name of the product (and ingredients and strengths, 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 national 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 health care provider will measure and monitor the person's vital signs, including temperature, pulse, breathing rate, and blood pressure. Symptoms will be treated as appropriate. The person may receive:

  • Activated charcoal
  • Breathing support, including a tube through the mouth into the lungs, and a breathing machine (ventilator) 
  • Endoscopy -- camera down the throat to see burns in the esophagus and the stomach
  • Fluids through a vein (by IV)
  • Immediate kidney dialysis
  • Medicine (antidote) to reverse the effect of the poison
  • Tube through the mouth into the stomach to wash out the stomach (gastric lavage)

Outlook (Prognosis)

How well the person does depends on the amount of poison swallowed and how quickly treatment is received. The faster the person gets medical help, the better the chance for recovery.

Methanol is the most dangerous and poisonous substance that can be an ingredient in ink remover. It often causes permanent blindness.

References

Kruse JA. Ethanol, methanol, and ethylene glycol. In: Vincent JL, Abraham E, Moore FA, Kochanek PM, Fink MP, eds. Textbook of Critical Care. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2011:chap 171.

Update Date 11/4/2015