Cosmetic Poisonings, Injuries Send Thousands of Children to Hospital Emergency Rooms: Study

More than 4,000 children are injured or poisoned by cosmetic products commonly kept in American homes, such as makeup and hair products, sometimes resulting in very serious or life-threatening injuries, according t the findings of new research.

In a study published this week in the medical journal Clinical Pediatrics, researchers from the Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio highlighted the serious risk of cosmetic poisoning and hidden dangers associated with many product commonly left within easy reach of young children.

Cosmetic products are defined as products used to cleanse, beautify, promote attractiveness or alter appearance. The products can include hair relaxers, nail polish, moisturizers, skin oils, deodorants, and makeup.

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The researchers conducted a retrospective analysis using data from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System, involving emergency room treatments for children under five years old from 2002 to 2016, which involved a cosmetic-related injury.

The products in the study were categorized into five groups, based on how they’re used: nail care, hair care, skin care, fragrance and other, which included deodorants and makeup.

Nearly 65,000 children were treated in ERs for cosmetic-related injuries during the 15 year study period, and researchers indicate that roughly 4.300 new problems occur each year. This is the equivalent of a trip to the emergency room every two hours.

The majority of injuries, 28%, came from nail care products. Hair care products accounted for 27% of injuries, skin care products were 25% of injuries, and fragrance products resulted in nearly 13% of injuries. The remaining injuries came from skin or eye contact.

Patients were most likely to be hospitalized after exposure to hair products, especially hair relaxers and products used to perm hair.

Young children were twice as likely to be injured by these products. Roughly 60% of all injuries were in young children. Poisoning was the most common diagnosis, occurring in 86% of all cases.

Children exposed to hair care products were twice as likely to have a chemical burn and more than three times as likely to be hospitalized.

Researchers warned that the problem may be worse than it appears, as such incidents may be underreported. The study only included cases treated in emergency rooms and not cases treated at home or pediatric offices.

This is the first study to use a nationally representative sample to focus on cosmetic-related injuries among children under 5 years old.

Many cosmetic products are not harmful when used according to the directions. However, a young child can be seriously injured when the product is not used correctly or accidentally ingested. From 1999 to 2015 cosmetics caused the deaths of seven children.

Parents and caregivers should make sure to childproof their homes using locks and keeping potentially harmful products up high. Young children are curious and will eat or drink almost anything, including cosmetics and personal care products.

If a child is accidentally exposed to a cosmetic product contact the National Poison Help Line at 800-222-1222.


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