Specific information concerning treatment can be obtained from accompanying labels or written documentation such as the MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheet). Expert advice (poison control) and rapid transport to advanced medical care (EMS) is urgently needed in poisoning cases.

A poisoning victim may require basic life support at any moment; monitor the victim’s ABCs throughout.

Absorbed Poisons


Absorbed poisons are taken into the body through unbroken skin. Absorbed poisons are especially dangerous as they may not only cause local damage, but they can enter the bloodstream and cause widespread damage. It is important to note that certain poisons such as agricultural chemicals or insecticides may enter the bloodstream through absorption while leaving the skin undamaged.


As with any type of poisoning, EMS should be immediately called and the rescuer should always start with the initial assessment and treat any life-threatening problems before continuing. Once all life-threats are taken care of, then the poison should be removed carefully. Failure to do so may lead to the rescuer succumbing to the poison as well. Rescuers should always wear at least one and possibly two sets of gloves. Filter masks should also be worn to prevent inhalation.

Topical poisons tend to be in either a powder or liquid form. The treatment for either form is the same. First, remove any excess poison from the affected area, being careful not to inhale or touch it. This will decrease the potential for harm and make the next step exponentially easier. If possible, capture the poison in a clean secure container for identification purposes. Next, irrigate the affected area for at least 20 minutes to dilute the poison.

Inhaled Poisons

Inhalation injuries can come from a variety of sources including the inhalation of smoke, gasses, and chemicals. Get victim to fresh air. Use caution in giving rescue breathing to a person overcome by hazardous chemicals, as you may be contaminated in so doing.

Ingested Poisons

Internal poisoning may not be immediately apparent. Symptoms, such as vomiting are sufficiently general that an immediate diagnosis cannot be made. The best indication of internal poisoning may be the presence of an open container of medication or toxic household chemicals. Check the label for specific first aid instructions for that specific poison.


Don’t do this!

Do not administer emergency antidotes or induce vomiting without the benefit of expert advice.

Call for help immediately as advanced medical care will be required. If possible contact a poison control center and provide information about the suspected poison. Depending on the type of poison, the poison control center may suggest additional first aid measures pending the arrival of emergency medical technicians. These might include dilution with water or milk, administration of syrup of ipecac or activated charcoal, or the use of other common household products as improvised emergency antidotes.

Appropriate first aid measures vary depending on the type of poison. Induced vomiting may do more harm than good, because the poison may harm the alimentary canal or esophagus. Vomit may also block the airway. However, induced vomiting may be necessary with some poisons to save the victim’s life.

Injected Poisons

An injection poisoning can occur from a variety of sources. From drug abuse to insect bites/stings to animal bites. Poison Control Centers will provide the best information for first aiders. Basic treatment involves monitoring the patients ABCs, treating for shock, observing the patient for an allergic reaction, and calming the patient.

To help EMS, gain as much information about the poison as you can. What it was, when it was injected, how it was injected, and if the person has any allergies to the injection. (For example a bee sting causing anaphylaxis.)


This article incorporates public domain material from Wikidoc and MedlinePlus. Please see licenses for further details.

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