Aftershave is a lotion, gel, or liquid applied to the face after shaving. It is often used by men. This article discusses the harmful effects from swallowing aftershave products.
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.
- Ethyl alcohol
- Isopropyl alcohol (isopropanol)
Note: This list may not be all-inclusive.
Aftershaves are sold under various brand names.
Symptoms may include:
- Abdominal pain
- Change in alert level (unconsciousness)
- Eye irritation (burning, redness, tearing)
- Low body temperature
- Low blood pressure
- Low blood sugar
- Rapid heart rate
- Slowed breathing
- Slurred speech
- Throat pain
- Unable to walk in a normal manner
- Urination difficulties (too much or too little urine output)
- Vomiting (may contain blood)
Isopropanol may also caused the following additional symptoms:
Children are particularly prone to developing low blood sugar, which may cause symptoms such as:
Seek immediate medical help. Do NOT make a person throw up unless told to do so by poison control or a health care professional.
Immediately give the person water or milk, unless instructed otherwise by a health care provider. Do NOT give water or milk if the patient is having symptoms (such as vomiting, seizures, or a decreased level of alertness) that make it hard to swallow.
Before Calling Emergency
Determine the following information:
- Patient's age, weight, and condition
- Name of the product (ingredients and strengths, if known)
- Time it was swallowed
- Amount swallowed
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.
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. The patient may receive:
- Activated charcoal
- Breathing support
- Fluids through a vein (by IV)
- Medication to treat the effects of the poison
- Tube from the mouth into the stomach to wash out the stomach (gastric lavage)
Aftershave poisoning usually occurs in small children. It may also occur in persons with alcoholism, who may drink the product when other alcohol runs out.
The outcome depends on how much is swallowed. This poisoning is not usually deadly. The range of illness may vary from a condition similar to being drunk to coma, seizures, and severe lung difficulties. A product with more isopropyl alcohol may potentially cause a more serious illness.
Berk W, Henderson W. Alcohols. In: Tintinalli JE, Kelen GD, Stapczynski JS, Ma OJ, Cline DM, eds. Emergency Medicine: A Comprehensive Study Guide. 6th ed. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill; 2004:chap 166.
Jacobsen D, Hovda KE. Methanol, ethylene glycol, and other toxic alcohols. In: Shannon MW, Borron SW, Burns MJ, eds. Haddad and Winchester's Clinical Management of Poisoning and Drug Overdose. 4th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2007:chap 32.
Review Date: 2/16/2012
Reviewed By: Eric Perez, MD, St. Luke's / Roosevelt Hospital Center, NY, NY, and Pegasus Emergency Group (Meadowlands and Hunterdon Medical Centers), NJ. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.