Hair tonic

This poisoning is from ingestion of hair tonic.

Poisonous Ingredient 

Where Found 

  • Various hair tonics


  • Body as a whole       o Listing from side to side       o Unable to walk in a normal manner       o Slurred speech       o Easily upset       o Painful urination  
  • Respiratory       o Slowed respirations  
  • Gastrointestinal       o Vomiting       o Diarrhea  
  • Nervous system       o Stupor       o Coma

Home Treatment 
DO NOT INDUCE VOMITING UNLESS INSTRUCTED TO DO SO BY Poison Control. The person could accidentally inhale some vomit into the lungs.

If there is skin contamination from the product, wash thoroughly for 15 minutes.

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:

  • For swallowed poison       o Placement of a tube down the nose and into the stomach (a nasogastric tube, or an NG tube) to wash out the stomach       o Activated charcoal administration       o Endoscopy - the placement of a camera down the throat to see the extent of burns to the esophagus and the stomach       o Give IV fluids       o Admission to the hospital       o Give an antidote       o Treat the symptoms  
  • For inhaled poisons       o A breathing tube may need to be inserted       o Oxygen       o Admission to the hospital or to the intensive care unit       o Bronchoscopy (inserting a camera down the throat into the airway to evaluate the extent of burns to the airway and lungs)  
  • For skin exposure       o Irrigation (washing of the skin), perhaps every few hours for several days       o Skin debridement (surgical removal of burned skin)       o Admission or transfer to a hospital that specializes in burn care.

Expectations (prognosis) 
Prognosis and outcome depend on amount of exposure and time to treatment. Exposure to this toxin in high enough amounts can cause liver failure. Survival over 24 hours usually indicates that recovery will follow.

Johns Hopkins patient information

Last revised: December 3, 2012
by Gevorg A. Poghosian, Ph.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.