Accidental soap poisoning from soap products can occur from exposure to household cleaning products that contain harsh chemicals, including soap for cleaning the body or household agents. When an individual ingests or inhales these products, life-threatening symptoms might arise.
Once an individual is suspected with soap poisoning, call for emergency assistance or the local poison center right away.
Indications of soap poisoning
The indications that might arise are based on the product, amount ingested and length of exposure.
- If the eyes are exposed, there is vision loss or difficulty focusing since the chemical might be burning the eyes.
- If the skin was exposed, there is irritation, small perforations or even burns on the upper skin layer.
- If the fumes are inhaled, there is difficulty breathing or swelling in the throat. This is considered serious since both are life-threatening.
- If ingested, there might be pain or swelling of the throat as well as the lips and tongue. There are also indications of GI distress. The individual will start to vomit repeatedly and it might be streaked with blood. Other symptoms include abdominal pain or blood in the stool. Depending on the product ingested, there might be burns in the esophagus as well.
There are also other indications that might arise if an individual has soap poisoning such as low blood pressure or a rapid drop in the heart rate. In serious cases, the heart might collapse from exposure to the chemicals.
When a blood test is taken, it might show that the pH or acid level of the blood changed which can impair the vital organs. Remember that this does not always arise with household soap products but can occur from the commercial variants.
The treatment for soap poisoning is based on the length of exposure to the chemical. In most instances, the doctor starts by checking the vital signs including the pulse, blood pressure, temperature and breathing.
Inform the medical team right away if you know the amount or type of exposure the to the soap product. The treatment might include:
- Administration of oxygen
- Pain medications
- Intravenous fluids
- Breathing tube
- Removal of burned skin
- Bronchoscopy which involves the introduction of a camera into the throat to check for any burns in the airways and lungs
- Skin irrigation or washing of the skin repeatedly
- Endoscopy which involves the introduction of a camera into the throat to assess for any burns in the esophagus and stomach
Always bear in mind that poisoning is life-threatening. It is vital to seek immediate treatment to prevent severe complications from arising including tissue death and brain damage.
Quick Note / Disclaimer
The material posted on this page on soap poisoning is for learning and educational purposes only. To learn to recognize and manage this type of poisoning, register for a first aid and CPR course with Ottawa First Aid.