Cyanide Poisoning Treatment

Medically Reviewed by Carol DerSarkissian, MD on January 15, 2022
  • You are sure the person was exposed to cyanide.

If you are not sure it is cyanide, call Poison Control at 800-222-1222.

Treat the person as follows, depending on whether cyanide was inhaled, ingested, or absorbed through the skin:

  • Get the person to fresh air immediately.
  • If you can't get away from the area where cyanide gas is, stay low to the ground.
  • If the person has difficulty breathing or has stopped breathing, do hands-only CPR:
  • For a child, start CPR for children.
  • For an adult, start adult CPR.
  • Do not do mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.

Avoid touching a person whose skin has been exposed to cyanide; only emergency personnel with special protective clothing should have direct contact with the victim, as secondary contamination is possible.

  • Immediately irrigate eyes with plain water for at least 10 minutes.
  • Put contact lenses in a plastic bag for emergency personnel to dispose of.
  • Glasses may be used after washing with soap and water.
  • At the hospital, the person will be treated with antidotes and oxygen.

Show Sources


CDC Emergency Preparedness and Response: "Facts About Cyanide."

Edward P. Krenzelok, PharmD, FAACT, DABAT, director Pittsburgh Poison Center & Drug Information Center, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.

Gordon J. Vanscoy, PharmD, MBA., CACP, associate professor, Pharmacy and Therapeutics, University of Pittsburgh.

Health and Safety Executive: "Cyanide poisoning -- New recommendations on first aid treatment."

Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry: "Hydrogen Cyanide Fact Sheet."

University of Melbourne: "Faculty of Science: School of Chemistry -- Safety."

Centers for Disease Control, Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry.

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