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Definition:

Zinc oxide is an ingredient in certain creams and ointments used to prevent or treat minor skin burns and irritation. Zinc oxide overdose occurs when someone accidentally or intentionally eats this medication.

This is for information only and not for use in the treatment or management of an actual poison exposure. If you have an exposure, you should call your local emergency number (such as 911) or the National Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222.

See also: Bacitracin zinc overdose



Alternative Names:

Desitin overdose; Calamine lotion overdose; Zinaderm overdose; Amalox overdose; Azo 22 overdose



Poisonous Ingredient:

Zinc oxide



Where Found:

Zinc oxide may be found in many different products, including:

  • Zinc oxide ointment
  • Diaper rash medications
  • Hemorrhoid medications
  • Skin lotions
  • Calamine lotion
  • Caladryl lotion
  • Sunscreen lotion
  • Cosmetics
  • Paint
  • Rubber goods
  • Paper coating
Note: This list may not be all-inclusive.

Symptoms:

Home Treatment:

If the person swallowed a lot of zinc oxide, immediately give the person water or milk. Do NOT give water or milk if the patient is vomiting or has a decreased level of alertness.

If the chemical is on the skin or in the eyes, flush with lots of water for at least 15 minutes.

If the chemical is breathed in (inhaled), move the person to fresh air.

Call your doctor or poison control.



Before Calling Emergency:

Determine the following information:

  • Patient's age, weight, and condition
  • Name of the product (as well as the ingredients and strength, if known)
  • Time it was swallowed
  • Amount swallowed


Poison Control, or a local emergency number:

The National Poison Control Center (1-800-222-1222) can be called 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.

See: Poison control center - emergency number



What to expect at the emergency room:

The health care provider will measure and monitor the patient's vital signs, including temperature, pulse, breathing rate, and blood pressure. Symptoms will be treated as appropriate.



Expectations (prognosis):

Zinc oxide is not very toxic (poisonous) when you mistakenly eat it. Most of the harmful effects come from breathing in the gas form of zinc oxide at industrial sites in the chemical industry. This leads to a condition known as "metal fume fever."

Either way, long-term recovery is very likely.




Review Date: 2/3/2009
Reviewed By: A.D.A.M. Editorial Team: David Zieve, MD, MHA, Greg Juhn, MTPW, David R. Eltz. Previously reviewed by Eric Perez, MD, Department of Emergency Medicine, St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital Center, New York, NY. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network (1/23/2008).

The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
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Wentworth-Douglass Hospital
789 Central Avenue, Dover, NH 03820
Phone: (603) 742-5252
Toll free: 1 (877) 201-7100