Sunscreen - swallowing
This is poisoning from swallowing sunscreen.
Older sunscreens used para-aminobenzoic acid (PABA) to provide protection from the sun's rays. However, many of today's suntan lotions are PABA-free. Sunscreens may contain any of the following ingredients:
- Salicylates (aspirin-like compounds)
- Zinc oxide
This list may not be all inclusive.
- Some sunscreen lotions
Sunscreens are generally considered non-poisonous (non-toxic). Most symptoms are caused by mild allergic reactions and skin and eye irritation.
- Eyes, ears, nose, and throat
- Eye irritation may occur after eye exposure
- Rash (allergic reaction)
Determine the following information:
- The patient's age, weight, and condition
- The name of the product (as well as the ingredients and strength, if known)
- The time it was swallowed
- The amount swallowed
The National Poison Control Center (1-800-222-1222) can be called 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 U.S. 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.
Take the container with you to the hospital, if possible.
The health care provider will measure and monitor the patient's vital signs, including temperature, pulse, breathing rate, and blood pressure. The patient may receive:
- Medicines to treat symptoms
- Medicines to treat allergic reactions (diphenhydramine, prednisone)
Swallowing sunscreen usually just causes mild stomach upset and vomiting.
Some suntan lotions contain a type of alcohol called ethanol. Children who swallow a large amount of such products may become intoxicated (drunk).
Swallowing a large amount of sunscreen made out of salicylates could causes a condition similar to aspirin overdose.
Reviewed By: Eric Perez, MD, Department of Emergency Medicine, St. Luke's-RooseveltHospital Center, New York, NY. Review provided by VeriMed HealthcareNetwork.