These Common Items on Your Bathroom Counter Injure Thousands of Kids Each Year

Cosmetic products are a surprising source of emergency room visits

Little girl playing with lipstick

You smartly keep all of your medicines and cleaning products tucked away in a cabinet, out of the reach of your curious children.

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But do you do the same with your nail, hair and skin care products?

Leaving cosmetic products out on the counter or in a drawer where young kids can reach could be an accident waiting to happen.

According to a new study, more than 4,300 children under the age of 5 are treated for cosmetic-related injuries in emergency departments across the country each year.

Most of these injuries are accidental poisonings or chemical burns on the skin or eyes, and the majority occur in kids under 2 years old, according to the study.

“These products are packaged and designed to be visually appealing, and they often smell good,” notes emergency medicine physician Thomas Waters, MD, who was not involved in the research. “We have a sense of comfort with these products, but we should really keep them up out of the reach of little hands.”

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Problematic products

The most common culprits of cosmetic-related injuries that send kids to the ER include:

  • Nail polish remover.
  • Fragrances.
  • Hair relaxers, dyes or straighteners.
  • Skin creams and lotions.

These products often contain hydrocarbons, alcohol or other chemicals. Although they can be safely used by adults, they can be harmful to kids who don’t know better. Swallowing even small amounts can cause digestive upset, intoxication, breathing problems or mouth burns, Dr. Waters says.

Fortunately, these injuries are treatable and not likely fatal, but it’s important to get medical help if your child gets ahold of these products.

When in doubt, get emergency care

If your child gets into hair products that cause a rash on their skin or burning in their eyes, rinse the affected area with lots of water before taking them to get medical care.

If your child ingests nail polish remover, perfume or any other cosmetic product, do not attempt to make the child vomit.

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“The safest thing to do is to get to the emergency room,” Dr. Waters stresses. “If the child is not severely sick and you think the ingestion is mild, calling poison control (1-800-222-1222) is reasonable. They might be able to help you decide whether the child needs to go to the ER.”

If you notice any breathing issues, call 911.

Keep little ones safe

You’ve seen how prone your toddler is to putting anything and everything in his mouth, so even if you’ve never seen him reach things on the counter or open a bottle, don’t risk it. To keep kids safe, store cosmetic products in the same way you would medications: in locked cabinets out of their reach.

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