Alternative names 
Talcum powder

This poisoning is due to exposure to talcum powder.

Poisonous Ingredient

Where Found

  • Talcum powder  
  • Some antiseptics

Note: This list may not be all inclusive.


  • Body as a whole       o Fever       o Twitching of the facial muscles       o Twitching of arms, hands, legs, or feet       o Convulsions       o Urine output, decreased significantly (or none)       o Collapse  
  • Respirations       o Cough       o Difficulty breathing       o Acute respirator distress       o Respiratory failure  
  • Eyes, ears, nose, and throat       o Jaundice (yellowed eyes)       o Eye irritation       o Cough       o Throat irritation  
  • Skin       o Blisters       o Rash       o Bluish skin, lips, and fingernails       o Sloughing of skin       o Yellow skin  
  • Gastrointestinal       o Vomiting - mucous, blood       o Diarrhea - mucous, blood  
  • Heart and blood vessels       o Low blood pressure  
  • Nervous system       o Drowsiness       o Lack of desire to do anything       o Coma

Home Treatment
For any inhalation, seek emergency medical care immediately. Inhalation of talcum powder can be very serious. If on the skin, remove it by washing the area. Call Poison Control for guidance.

Before Calling Emergency
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

Poison Control, or a local emergency number
They will instruct you if it is necessary to take the patient to the hospital. Bring 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 inhalation:       o Administer oxygen       o Breathing tube (assisted ventillation)       o Mist tent (with N-acetyl-cysteine, an antidote)       o Admission to the intensive care unit  
  • 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 (gastric lavage)       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 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  
  • For allergic reactions       o Use of diphenhydramine       o Use of prednisone

Expectations (prognosis)
Inhalation of talcum powder can lead to very serious respiratory complications, even death. Recovery and prognosis depend on the time to treatment and the extent of the exposure. Seek emergency medical care immediately for any ingestion or inhalation.

Johns Hopkins patient information

Last revised: December 6, 2012
by Simon D. Mitin, 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.