Ink remover poisoning
Ink remover is a chemical used to get out ink stains. Ink remover poisoning occurs when someone swallows this substance.
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 your local emergency number (such as 911), or your 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 ingredients include:
- Drinking alcohol (ethanol)
- Rubbing alcohol (isopropyl alcohol, which can be very poisonous if swallowed in large doses)
- Wood alcohol (methanol, which is very poisonous)
These ingredients can be found in:
- Ink removers
- Liquid bleaches
Note: This list may not include all sources of ink removers.
Symptoms from all types of alcohol poisoning may include:
- Brain damage
- Decreased breathing
- Stupor (decreased awareness, sleepiness confusion)
Methanol and isopropyl alcohol poisoning symptoms can occur in various parts of the body.
EYES, EARS, NOSE, AND THROAT
- Blurred vision
- Enlarged (dilated) pupils
- Abdominal pain
- Nausea and vomiting
- Severe bleeding and vomiting blood (hemorrhage)
HEART AND BLOOD
- Low blood pressure, sometimes leading to shock
- Severe change in the level of acid in the blood (pH balance), which leads to the failure of many organs
- Kidney failure
LUNGS AND AIRWAYS
MUSCLES AND BONES
- Leg cramps
- Coma (decreased level of consciousness and lack of responsiveness)
- Convulsions (seizures)
- Blue skin, lips, or fingernails (cyanosis)
Get medical help right away. 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 for at least 15 minutes.
Before Calling Emergency
Get the following information:
- Person's age, weight, and condition
- Name of the product (and ingredients and strengths, if known)
- Time it was swallowed
- Amount swallowed
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.
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 health care provider will measure and monitor the person's vital signs, including temperature, pulse, breathing rate, and blood pressure. Symptoms will be treated as appropriate. The person may receive:
- Breathing support, including oxygen, a tube through the mouth into the lungs, and a breathing machine (ventilator).
- Endoscopy -- camera down the throat to look for burns in the esophagus (swallowing tube) and the stomach.
- Fluids through a vein (by IV).
- Kidney dialysis (machine to remove poison and correct acid-base balance).
- Medicine (antidote) to reverse the effect of the poison and treat symptoms.
- Tube through the mouth into the stomach to aspirate (suck out) the stomach. This is done only when the person gets medical care within 30-45 minutes of the poisoning, and a very large amount of the substance has been swallowed.
How well the person does depends on the amount of poison swallowed and how quickly treatment is received. The faster the person gets medical help, the better the chance for recovery.
Methanol is the most dangerous and poisonous substance that can be an ingredient in ink remover. It often causes permanent blindness.
Nelson ME. Toxic Alcohols. In: Walls RM, Hockberger RS, Gausche-Hill M, eds. Rosen's Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice. 9th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2018:chap 141.
Tolwani AJ, Saha MK, Wille KM. Metabolic acidosis and alkalosis. In: Vincent JL, Abraham E, Moore FA, Kochanek PM, Fink MP, eds. Textbook of Critical Care. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2017:chap 104.
Zimmerman JL. Poisonings. In: Parrillo JE, Dellinger RP, eds. Critical Care Medicine: Principles of Diagnosis and Management in the Adult. 5th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2019:chap 65.
Last reviewed on: 9/26/2019
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.