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Aloe

Skin and sunburn treatments

Aloe is an extract from the aloe plant. It is used in many skin care products. Aloe poisoning occurs when someone swallows this substance. However, aloe is not very poisonous.

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 Ingredient

The substances that can be harmful are:

  • Aloe
  • Aloin

Where Found

Aloe is found in many different products, including:

Other products may also contain aloe.

Symptoms

Symptoms of aloe poisoning include:

  • Breathing difficulty (from breathing in a product that contains aloe)
  • Diarrhea
  • Loss of vision
  • Rash
  • Severe abdominal pain
  • Skin irritation
  • Throat swelling (which may also cause breathing difficulty)
  • Vomiting

Home Care

Stop using the product.

Seek medical help right way. DO NOT make the person throw up unless poison control or a health care provider tells you to.

Before Calling Emergency

Have this information ready:

  • Person's age, weight, and condition
  • Name of the product (ingredients, if known)
  • Time it was swallowed
  • Amount swallowed

Poison Control

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. 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

Take the container with you to the hospital, if possible.

The provider will measure and monitor the person's vital signs, including temperature, pulse, breathing rate, and blood pressure. Symptoms will be treated.

The person may receive:

  • Blood and urine tests
  • Fluids by IV (through a vein)
  • Medicines to treat symptoms

Outlook (Prognosis)

How well someone does depends on how much aloe they swallowed and how quickly they receive treatment. The faster medical help is given, the better the chance for recovery.

Aloe is not very poisonous. Treatment is usually not needed. However, if you swallow it, you will likely have diarrhea.

A small number of people have an allergic reaction to aloe, which can be dangerous. Get medical help if a rash, throat tightness, difficulty breathing, or chest pain develop.

References

Davison K, Marinelli R. Ethnobotany. In: Auerbach PS, ed. Wilderness Medicine. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Mosby; 2012: chap 66.

Murray MT. Aloe vera (Cape aloe). In: Pizzorno JE, Murray MT, eds. Textbook of Natural Medicine. 4th ed. St. Louis, MO: Elsevier; 2013:chap 64.

Smolinske SC, Daubert GP, Spoerke DG. Poisonous plants. In: Shannon MW, Borron SW, Burns MJ, eds. Haddad and Winchester's Clinical Management of Poisoning and Drug Overdose. 4th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2007:chap 24.

          Review Date: 10/16/2015

          Reviewed By: Jacob L. Heller, MD, MHA, Emergency Medicine, Virginia Mason Medical Center, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, 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- A.D.A.M., a business unit of Ebix, Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
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