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9 Ointments That Can Poison Your Children to Death

9 Ointments That Can Poison Children to Death

9 Camphor-Containing Ointments That Can Poison Children To Death

This article is adapted from http://teawoodoil.com/2015/06/02/9-common-camphor-containing-ointment-that-can-poison-children-to-death/

Dear Parents, Know What You’re Giving Your Children.  Do you know that 80% of Over-The-Counter Medicated Oil, Balm and Ointment contain Camphor that can make your kids sicker?!

Camphor used to be made by distilling the bark and wood of the camphor tree. Today, it is synthetized from turpentine oil.

If ingested orally by children, or if it is applied to broken skin, camphor is rapidly absorbed into the body from the skin, gastrointestinal tract, and respiratory tract. This can cause camphor toxicity and poisoning when the camphor concentrations are high enough.

Camphor is never supposed to be swallowed, but that doesn’t stop the curiosity of little children or babies from trying to eat it. Some well-meaning parents might miss the “External Use Only” warnings on the product label and give kids a teaspoonful of camphor product to swallow for their ailment without realizing it can be harmful.

People use camphor products topically to relieve pain and reduce itching because of its mild aesthetic and rubefacient effects. It works by increasing the local blood flow and reduces pain and swelling caused by irritation. Camphor containing essential oils can be rubbed on the skin to treat muscle pain, osteoarthritis, itching, or cold remedies like Vicks Vaporub. It can also be inhaled to treat nasal congestion, cold and upper respiratory symptoms.

Camphor Poisoning in Children

Approximately 11,000 pediatric camphor exposures are reported to the United States poison control centres annually.

Reported poisoning case:

  • 15-month old child presented to Accident and Emergency department with generalized seizure for 40 minutes after licking a cube of camphor. The camphor is placed in a bowl of water on the floor of child’s room and added to humidifier water.
  • 22-month old boy presented to the hospital with seizures just an hour after his parents found a piece of camphor in his mouth.
  • 15-month girl presented to A&E with second seizure after her mother applied a camphor chest rub too often to the child’s chest, back, and head – every hour for 10 hours – to treat cold symptoms.

9 Common Over-The-Counter Medicated Ointment That Contain Camphor that You Should Avoid On Your Children

#1: Vicks VapoRub

Read more about our article on Vicks VapoRub: Natural Alternative to Vicks VapoRub

9 Ointments That Can Poison Children to Death

Contain Camphor 5.26%, Menthol 2.82%, Thymol 0.09%, Oil of Eucalyptus 1.33%, Nutmeg 0.69%, Cedar Leaf 0.44% and Turpentine 4.68%, Petroleum 100%

 

#2: Tiger Balm

9 Ointments That Can Poison Children to Death

Contain Camphor 5.26%, Menthol 2.82%, Thymol 0.09%, Oil of Eucalyptus 1.33%, Nutmeg 0.69%, Cedar Leaf 0.44% and Turpentine 4.68%, Petroleum 100%

#3: Eagle Brand Medicated Oil

9 Ointments That Can Poison Children to Death

Contain L-menthol 16%, Camphor 3%, Eucalyptus Oil 1.5%, Methyl Salicylate 20%, Myristicae 1.25%.

#4: Kwan Loong Medicated Oil

9 Ointments That Can Poison Children to Death

Contain Menthol 14%, Methyl Salicylate 21%, Camphor 10%, Eucalyptus Oil 10%, Spike Lavender Oil 7%

#5: Eagle Balm (also Known as Balsem Lang)

Contains L-menthol 155 mg, Eucalyptus Oil 195 mg, Methyl Salicylate 80mg, Camphor 40mg

#6: Axe Brand Medicated Oil

9 Ointments That Can Poison Children to Death

Contains Menthol Crystals 16%, Eucalyptus Oil 15%, Methyl Salicylate 15%, Camphor 5%

#7: Zambuk Ointment

9 Ointments That Can Poison Children to Death

Contain Eucalyptus Oil 5.02%, Camphor 1.76%, Thyme Oil 0.50%, Colophony 2.51%

Check out our Boo-Boo Ointment as a natural alternative to Zam-Buk!

#8: Three Leg White & Yellow Balsem

Three Leg White & Yellow Balsem

ContainsMethyl Salicylate 13.5%, menthol 7.5%, Camphor 7%

#9: Hurix’s Minyak Urut Gamat Plus

Contains Camphor 18.3mg, Menthol 26.7mg, Capsicum Oil20mg, Eucalyptus Oil20mg, Cinnamon Oil 16.7mg, Peppermint Oil 50%, Citronella Oil 11.7mg. This product contains 80% alcohol.

Ingestion of even small doses of camphor can cause fatal poisoning in small children. In fact, most reported cases of toxicity occur in the context of unintentional ingestion of camphorated oil instead of castor oil.

Symptoms of camphor toxicity

Symptoms of toxicity occur rapidly as early as 5-15 min after ingestion;

  • include nausea and vomiting,
  • oral and intestinal burning, and
  • a feeling of warmth and headache.

These symptoms may progress to

  • confusion,
  • vertigo,
  • excitement,
  • restlessness,
  • delirium,
  • hallucinations,
  • tremors,
  • and/or convulsions.

Other adverse that may occur after oral ingestion include

  • tachycardia,
  • visual disturbances,
  • urinary retention,
  • albuminuria, and
  • elevations of liver enzymes.

The final stage of toxicity often results in depression and sometimes comaDeath can occur from respiratory failure or status epileptus.

Cure of Camphor Toxicity

There is no antidote for camphor toxicity and treatment is largely supportive, involving airway management and seizure control. Although there is no clear evidence of efficacy, gastric lavage and/or activated charcoal have been used.

9 Ointments That Can Poison Children to Death

The Advice to Parents and Care Giver

  • Read products labels. Keep all camphor products out of the reach of children.
  • Do not scatter camphor products around the house or use them in humidifiers.
  • Do not use camphor for pest control. Use only safer pest control products such as boric acid, gel, and baits.

Parents are advised to take precautions when using these products. Keep out of reach of children. Camphor is easily available and is also present in many cold medications and rubefacients. Parents and also caregivers for children need to be educated on the proper storage of potentially toxic substances including both prescription and over-the-counter products.

Thank you for reading.

Hope you find this article useful!

Share with someone in need, Prevention is better than cure.

REFERENCES

  1. Allen LV, Kroon LA; Handbook of Nonprescription Drugs. 12th edition, Washington, DC, APhA Publications, 2000.
  2. Cohen M, Wolfe R, Mai T, Lewis D; A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of a topical cream containing glucosamine sulfate, chondroitin sulfate, and camphor for osteoarthritis of the knee. J Rheumatol., 2003; 30(11): 523-528.
  3. Bronstein AC, Spyker DA, Cantilena LR Jr, Green J, Rumack BH, Heard SE; 2006 annual report of the American Association of Poison Control Centers’ National Poison Data System (NPDS). Clin Toxicol (Phila), 2007; 45(8): 815-917.
  4. Ruha AM, Graeme KA, Field A; Late seizure following ingestion of Vicks VapoRub. Acad Emerg Med., 2003; 10(6): 691.
  5. Siegel E, Wason S; Camphor toxicity. Pediatr Clin North Am., 1986; 33: 375-379.
  6. American Academy of Pediatrics; Camphor: who needs it? Pediatrics, 1978; 62(3): 404- 406.
  7. Skoglund RR, Ware LL Jr, Schanberger JE; Prolonged seizures due to contact inhalation exposure to camphor: A case report. Clin Pediatr., 1977; 16(10): 901-902.
  8. Smith AG, Margolis G; Camphor poisoning. anatomical and pharmacologic study; report of a fatal case; experimental investigation of protective action of barbiturate. Am J Pathol., 1954; 30(5): 857-867.
  9. Matteucci MJ; One pill can kill: assessing the potential for fatal poisonings in children. Pediatr Ann., 2005; 34: 964e968.
  10. Bridge CK; Hazards of camphorated oil. CMAJ, 1995; 153(7): 881.
  11. Smith AG, Margolis G; Camphor poisoning: anatomical and pharmaco-logic study; report of a fatal case; experimental investigation of protective action of barbiturate. Am J Pathol., 1954; 30: 857e869.
  12. Ellenhorn MJ; Ellenhorn’s Medical Toxicology: Diagnosis and Treatment of Human Poisoning. 2nd edition, Baltimore, Williams & Wilkins, 1997.

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