Hydrogen peroxide is a liquid commonly used to fight germs. Hydrogen peroxide poisoning occurs when large amounts of the liquid are swallowed or get in the lungs or eyes.
This article is for information only. DO NOT use it to treat or manage an actual poison exposure. If you or someone you are with has an exposure, call your local emergency number (such as 911), or your local poison center can be reached directly by calling the national toll-free Poison Help hotline (1-800-222-1222) from anywhere in the United States.
Hydrogen peroxide can be poisonous if it is not used correctly.
Hydrogen peroxide is used in these products:
Note: Household hydrogen peroxide has a 3% concentration. That means it contains 97% water and 3% hydrogen peroxide. Hair bleaches are stronger. They usually have a concentration of more than 6%. Some industrial-strength solutions contain more than 10% hydrogen peroxide.
Symptoms of a hydrogen peroxide poisoning include:
Seek medical help right away. Do NOT make the person throw up unless poison control or a health care provider tells you to do so. If the chemical is on the skin or in the eyes, flush with lots of water for at least 15 minutes.
Have this information ready:
Your local poison control center can be reached directly by calling the national toll-free Poison Help hotline (1-800-222-1222) from anywhere in the United States. This national hotline number will let you talk to experts in poisoning. They will give you further instructions.
This is a free and confidential service. All local poison control centers in the United States use this national number. You should call if you have any questions about poisoning or poison prevention. It does NOT need to be an emergency. You can call for any reason, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Take the container with you to the hospital, if possible.
The provider will measure and monitor the person's vital signs, including temperature, pulse, breathing rate, and blood pressure.
Tests that may done include:
Treatment may include:
Most contact with household-strength hydrogen peroxide is fairly harmless. Exposure to industrial-strength hydrogen peroxide can be dangerous. Endoscopy may be required to stop internal bleeding.
Aronson JK. Hydrogen peroxide. In: Aronson JK, ed. Meyler's Side Effects of Drugs. 16th ed. Waltham, MA: Elsevier; 2016:875.
Hoyte C. Caustics. In: Walls RM, Hockberger RS, Gausche-Hill M, eds. Rosen's Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice. 9th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2018:chap 148.BACK TO TOP
Review Date: 10/3/2019
Reviewed By: Jesse Borke, MD, CPE, FAAEM, FACEP, Attending Physician at Kaiser Permanente, Orange County, CA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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