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Health & Parenting

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Summer Safety for You and Your Kids

Poisoning in Children continued...

Calls to the poison center go up every spring and summer. Children may accidentally ingest sunscreens, berries, cleaning solvents, insect repellents, pesticides, plants and mushrooms, and hydrocarbons in the form of gasoline, kerosene, and charcoal fluid.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) no longer recommends that syrup of ipecac be used routinely to induce vomiting in poisoning cases. The main reason for the policy change was that, although it seems to make sense to induce vomiting to empty the stomach contents after a poisoning, research hasn't shown that ipecac-induced vomiting is beneficial in improving the clinical outcome of accidental poisoning cases.

The continued vomiting caused by ipecac could also prevent children from keeping down the activated charcoal they may be given in the emergency room. Charcoal binds to poison and keeps it out of the bloodstream. There are also some substances, such as drain cleaner, that shouldn't be made to come back up because they do more damage.

The FDA in 2014 recommended that ipecac syrup continue to be sold as an over-the-counter product in bottles of 1 fluid ounce.

Poisoning prevention and treatment

Dangerous substances, including medication, should be kept out of reach of children. In addition, substances should be kept in their original containers to avoid confusion or mistakes.

Children who have ingested poisonous substances may experience difficulty breathing, throat pain, or burns to the lips and mouth.

If you suspect that a child has ingested a poison, call the poison center immediately and tell them what type of poison was ingested so you can get advice on what to do. If you dial the nationwide poison help line -- 800-222-1222 -- you'll be connected to your regional poison center. Convulsions, loss of breathing, or loss of consciousness require calling 911 immediately. If you know what your child ingested, take it with you to the emergency room, whether it's a part of a plant or the chemical's container.

Skin Reactions

Picture of Henna Tattoo Reactions Henna tattoos: The FDA has received complaints from people who have received products marketed as henna temporary tattoos, especially so-called "black henna," at places such as salons and kiosks at beaches and fairs. There have been reports of allergic reactions, skin irritation, infections, and even scarring. "Black henna" may contain the added "coal tar" color, p-phenylenediamine, also known as PPD, which can cause allergic reactions in some people. Henna itself is made from a plant and typically produces a brown, orange-brown, or reddish-brown tint. Other ingredients must be added to produce other colors. Even brown shades of products marketed as henna may contain other ingredients intended to make them darker or make the stain last longer. While the FDA has approved henna for coloring hair, and PPD is used in cosmetics as a hair dye, neither of these color additives is approved for direct application to the skin.

Depilatories: The FDA also has received complaints about skin burns and scarring from some chemical hair removal products. If you use this type of product, always do a patch test in accordance with the directions. Don't use it on broken or irritated skin, and keep the product away from eyes. Cosmetics don't go through FDA approval before they are marketed, though the agency can take action to get unsafe products off the market.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Roy Benaroch, MD on July 09, 2015
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