Alternative names 
Sodium borate overdose; Boric Acid; Borates

Poisoning from an overdose of sodium borate (borax).

Poisonous Ingredient
Sodium borate

Where Found

  • Antiseptics and astringents  
  • Medicated powders  
  • Skin lotions  
  • Roach powder  
  • Some rodent and ant pesticides  
  • Photographic agents  
  • Some paints  
  • Enamels and glazes  
  • In making glass fibers

Note: This list may not be all inclusive.


  • Body as a whole       o Fever       o Twitching of facial muscles       o Twitching of arms, hands, legs, feet       o Convulsions       o Significantly decreased urine output (or none)       o Collapse  
  • Skin       o Blisters       o A bright red skin rash with skin sloughing in 2-3 days       o Sloughing of skin  
  • Gastrointestinal       o Vomiting - often blue-green in color       o Diarrhea  
  • Heart and blood vessels       o Low blood pressure  
  • Nervous system       o Drowsiness       o Lack of desire to do anything       o Coma

Home Treatment

If the chemical is on the skin, remove by washing the area thoroughly.

If the chemical was swallowed, contact Poison Control for instructions.

Before Calling Emergency
Determine the following information:

  • The patient’s age, weight, and condition  
  • The name of the product (ingredients and strengths if known)  
  • The time it was swallowed  
  • The amount swallowed

Poison Control, or a local emergency number
They will instruct you if it is necessary to take the patient to the hospital. See Poison Control centers for telephone numbers and addresses. Take the container with you to the emergency room.

What to expect at the emergency room
Some or all of the following procedures may be performed:

  • Administer activated charcoal.  
  • Use gastric lavage.  
  • Give liquids by mouth.  
  • Administer dialysis.  
  • Treat the symptoms.

Expectations (prognosis)
For infants, the death rate from boric acid poisonings is high.

Johns Hopkins patient information

Last revised: December 5, 2012
by David A. Scott, M.D.

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All ArmMed Media material is provided for information only and is neither advice nor a substitute for proper medical care. Consult a qualified healthcare professional who understands your particular history for individual concerns.