BACK TOTOP Browse A-ZSearchBrowse A-ZABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ0-9 E-mail FormEmail ResultsName:Email address:Recipients Name:Recipients address:Message: Print-FriendlyBookmarksbookmarks-menuPotassium hydroxide poisoningPotassium hydroxide is a chemical that comes as a powder, flakes, or pellets. It is commonly known as lye or potash. Potassium hydroxide is a caustic chemical. If it contacts tissues, it can cause severe damage, such as burning or ulcers, on contact. This article discusses poisoning from swallowing or touching potassium hydroxide or products that contain this chemical.This article is for information only. DO NOT use it to treat or manage an actual poison exposure. If you or someone you are with has an exposure, call the local emergency number (such as 911), or the local poison center can be reached directly by calling the national toll-free Poison Help hotline (1-800-222-1222) from anywhere in the United States. Poisonous Ingredient Potassium hydroxide Where Found Potassium hydroxide is found in:Cuticle removal products Drain cleaners Leather tanning chemicals Fertilizers Herbicides Paint removers Button or disc batteries Note: This list may not be all inclusive. Symptoms Symptoms from swallowing potassium hydroxide include:Burns and severe pain in the mouth and throat Throat swelling, which leads to difficulty breathing Drooling Severe abdominal pain Diarrhea DiarrheaDiarrhea is when you pass loose or watery stool.Read Article Now Book Mark Article Chest pain Rapid drop in blood pressure (shock) Vomiting, often bloody Symptoms from getting potassium hydroxide on the skin or in the eyes include:Burning Severe pain Vision loss Home Care Seek immediate medical help. DO NOT make a person throw up unless told to do so by poison control or a health care professional.If the chemical is on the skin or in the eyes, flush with lots of water (at least 2 quarts or 1.9 liters) for at least 15 minutes.If the chemical was swallowed, immediately give the person water or milk, unless instructed otherwise by a health care provider. DO NOT give water or milk if the person is having symptoms (such as vomiting, convulsions, or a decreased level of alertness) that make it hard to swallow.If the person breathed in the poison, immediately move them to fresh air. Before Calling Emergency Determine the following information:The person's age, weight, and condition The name of the product (and ingredients and strength, if known) The time it was swallowed or contacted The amount swallowed or contacted However, DO NOT delay calling for help if this information is not immediately available. Poison Control Your local poison control center can be reached directly by calling the national toll-free Poison Help hotline (1-800-222-1222) from anywhere in the United States. This national hotline will let you talk to experts in poisoning. They will give you further instructions.Local poison control centerFor a POISON EMERGENCY call:1-800-222-1222ANYWHERE IN THE UNITED STATESThis national hotline number will let you talk to experts in poisoning. This ...Read Article Now Book Mark Article 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. What to Expect at the Emergency Room The provider will measure and monitor the person's vital signs, including temperature, pulse, breathing rate, and blood pressure. The person may receive:Airway support, including oxygen, breathing tube through the mouth (intubation), and breathing machine (ventilator) Blood and urine tests Camera down the throat to see burns in the airway (bronchoscopy) Camera down the throat (endoscopy) to see burns in the esophagus and stomach Chest x-ray CT (computerized axial tomography or advanced imaging) scan ECG (electrocardiogram, or heart tracing) Fluids through a vein (IV) Medicines to treat symptoms Note: Activated charcoal does not effectively treat (adsorb) sodium hydroxide.For skin exposure, treatment may include:Surgical removal of burned skin (debridement) Transfer to a hospital that specializes in burn care Washing of the skin (irrigation), possibly every few hours for several days The person may need to be admitted to a hospital for more treatment. Surgery may be needed if the esophagus, stomach, or intestines have holes (perforations) from the chemical. Outlook (Prognosis) How well a person does depends on the amount of poison swallowed and how quickly treatment was received. The faster a person gets medical help, the better the chance for recovery.Swallowing poisons can have severe effects on many parts of the body. Damage to the esophagus and stomach continues to occur for several weeks after the potassium hydroxide was swallowed. Death from complications may occur as long as several months later. Holes (perforations) in the esophagus and stomach may result in serious infections in both the chest and abdominal cavities, which may result in death.Open ReferencesReferencesHoyte C. Caustics. In: Walls RM, Hockberger RS, Gausche-Hill M, eds. Rosen's Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice. 9th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2018:chap 148.AllVideoImagesTogRelated Information Review Date: 1/1/2021 Reviewed By: Jacob L. Heller, MD, MHA, Emergency Medicine, Emeritus, Virginia Mason Medical Center, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team. The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- © 1997- All rights reserved. A.D.A.M. content is best viewed in IE9 or above, Firefox and Google Chrome browser.Content is best viewed in IE9 or above, Firefox and Google Chrome browser.