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Poinsettia plant exposure

Poinsettia plants, commonly used during the holidays, are not poisonous. Eating this plant does not result in a trip to the hospital in most cases.

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

Diterpene esters

Where Found

Leaves, stem, sap of the poinsettia plant

Symptoms

Poinsettia plant exposure can affect many parts of the body.

EYES (IF DIRECT CONTACT OCCURS)

  • Burning
  • Redness

STOMACH AND INTESTINES (SYMPTOMS ARE MILD)

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Stomach ache

SKIN

  • Skin rash and itching

Home Care

Take the following steps if a person is exposed to the plant.

  1. Rinse the mouth out with water if leaves or stems were eaten.
  2. Rinse eyes with water, if needed.
  3. Wash the skin of any area that appears irritated with soap and water.

Before Calling Emergency

Seek medical help if the person has a severe reaction.

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

Symptoms will be treated as needed.

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.

This plant is not considered toxic. People most often make a full recovery.

DO NOT touch or eat any unfamiliar plant. Wash your hands after working in the garden or walking in the woods.

Alternative Names

Christmas flower poisoning; Lobster plant poisoning; Painted leaf poisoning

References

Graeme KA. Toxic plant ingestions. In: Auerbach PS, ed. Wilderness Medicine. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Mosby; 2012:chap 64.

Update Date 11/4/2015

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, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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