An introduction to accidental soap poisoning
What is soap poisoning? You can only be poisoned when you drink, eat or inhale a poisonous substance. One of such poisonous substance is soap or its products. Soaps are cleansing agents that can come in various forms
They contain powerful chemicals that when ingested accidentally, can bring about reactions in the body because that is not where they are meant to function in. Accidental poisoning is hence a disturbance of the body cells, tissues, organs, systems, and their functions upon the inhaling of dangerous cleansing fumes, or the swallowing of cleansing agents e.g. soap. Some can even affect the skin upon their contact with it.
Anybody can be poisoned. Toddlers and kids are especially at a huge risk. If you suspect that anyone has been poisoned from soaps or any cleansing agent, do not hesitate in seeking a doctor’s help for them.
You should also have emergency codes stored in your phone because soap poisoning can occur to anyone anytime anywhere.
Signs and symptoms of accidental soap poisoning
These solely depend on at least two factors;
How much of the poisonous substance the person has come in contact with, ingested or inhaled as the case may be and two, the component of the substance.
If the affected part of the body is your eyes, your vision might be affected. The concentration of the product determines the severity of damage that will be dealt with your sight. Vision could be lost.
If the affected part of your body is the skin, that part of the skin will be irritated. If the substance is quite corrosive, that part of the skin will be burnt. The degree to which it will be burnt will depend on the exposure time. Tiny holes on the skin can be formed, too.
This is usually when the fumes of the product were inhaled. This will induce difficulty in breathing. The throat can as well be affected as it could swell.
If the soap product containing the poisonous substance was ingested, painful swelling of the throat, tongues, and lips can present. Nausea and vomiting can be experienced. The vomit can be blood stained if it was a severe poisoning. The esophagus can experience some burning sensations. Faeces might be stained with blood. Pain in the abdomen is also one of such symptoms to watch out for.
This is true for cleansing products for commercial purposes. They can make the blood acidic upon ingestion. Depending on the amount ingested, vital body organs can pack up. It is a serious emergency as blood pressure can drastically drop. Heart rate will also fall. And if it is very severe, a heart failure can occur. Common soap products used in the house cannot wield this kind of damage.
Photo Credit: Bramble Berry
Causes of accidental soap poisoning
Soap poisoning will often be caused when you have been exposed to the poisoning substance for a very long time without you being aware of it. You might not even know it is that harmful because you do not know how powerful the soap or cleansing agent is. You should especially be careful of cleansing agents if you are using them to clean the house and the windows are not open. Their fumes can be dangerous.
What you can do in the event of an accidental soap poisoning
Should anyone around you or yourself has been exposed to harmful cleansing agents or soap products, hurriedly seek a doctor’s help? It is not the time to try to make the person throw up. Visiting a doctor should be your first initiative. When you are going to see a doctor, it is advisable you go with the ingested product and its container if you still have access to it. It will help the poison expert know how to handle the situation. The poison specialist will check you to know how severe it is. He will watch for symptoms and he can run some tests on you as he deems necessary. He might give medications that will induce you or the affected person to vomit.
Treatment options for accidental soap poisoning
You will be treated with respect to the severity or mildness of the poisoning. Upon seeing a doctor, he will check the following; your pulse rate, body temperature, blood pressure, and your breathing rate. These four things are called vital signs. If the poison was ingested, he will perform an endoscopy and a bronchoscopy on you. In endoscopy, your esophagus and stomach are views with something a special instrument passed through your throat. In bronchoscopy, your lungs are viewed for the presence or absence of swelling.
Once he has successfully completed doing all the necessary tests, he can then decide which treatment option will be suitable for you.
Some examples are;
- Oxygen therapy: in oxygen therapy, a breathing tube will be connected to your nose and artificial oxygen will be pumped into your body. This is to reduce damage to your body tissues.
- Intravenous fluids injection
- Administration of pains relievers
- If it was a skin poisoning, the affected area will be flushed repeatedly. Sometimes, that part of the skin might be removed surgically.
The long-term outlook
It is determined by the amount of exposure or ingestion you had with the product. It also depends on how quick you saw a doctor for treatment. Mild exposures will not take long for you to be healed. Severe damage caused when the exposure period was very long can take weeks for full recovery.
Tips on how to prevent accidental soap poisoning
As a responsible person that you are, it is your duty to know, not just by label or brand, but by content, what you are bringing into your home or office as the case may be. Do not by soaps or cleansing agents blindly. Read the pack, bottle or container before you drop in your shopping cart.
Buy mild soaps and cleaning agents. And if you must buy ‘poison’ you must be ready to use it with caution and dispose of it appropriately when you are done using it. If there are some left, they must keep in a safe place, where kids and even full-blown adults cannot reach.
According to the American Association of Poison Control Centers, about 1903 cases of exposure to single-load liquid detergent for laundry and dishwasher by kids were reported between January and February 2016. This is because kids have an attraction for pods where the liquid detergents were stored.
If you must buy such detergents, you should also make provision to keep them in a safe place –drawers, cabinets etc. Baby locks are just perfect for your drawers and cabinets. You could also try magnetic locks – you can mount them on your drawers and cabinets.
There are very cheap adhesive latches you can use to safeguard home appliances, cupboards, toilets etc.
The essence is safety-consciousness. All poisonous products should be kept away from kids by all means possible. They should be out of sight. Discard used packs, containers, bottles etc. properly. Be safety-minded.
Before you use any soap or cleaning agent, read and ensure you understand the instructions on its label. If you are instructed to open the windows, open the windows. If you are instructed not to inhale the fumes for a long time, do not do otherwise. If you are instructed to use a particular amount, do not be ‘overwise’. Life is simple with simple instructions. And if you do not understand the instructions, look for someone that understands for explanation or interpretation before you use a product.
Poison control calls
The national poison control center (NPCC) can help with useful information on how to prevent or manage soap poisoning. They can be reached anytime via 800-222-1222 if you are in the US.
You can also call 911 right away at any point in time you suspect a soap poisoning for prompt medical help.