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Cold wave lotion poisoning

Cold wave lotion is a hair care product used to create permanent waves ("a perm"). Cold wave lotion poisoning occurs from swallowing, breathing in, or touching cold wave lotion.

This is for information only and not for use in the treatment or management of an actual poison exposure. If you have an exposure, you should call your local emergency number (such as 911) or the National Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222.

  • Alternative Names

    Thioglycolate poisoning

  • Poisonous Ingredient

    Thioglycolates

  • Where Found
    • Hair perm (permanent) kits
    • Various cold wave lotions

    Note: This list may not include all products that contain cold wave lotion.

  • Symptoms
  • Home Treatment

    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 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 patient 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 him or her to fresh air.

  • Before Calling Emergency

    Determine the following information:

    • Patient's age, weight, and condition
    • Name of the product (ingredients and strengths, if known)
    • Time it was swallowed
    • Amount swallowed
  • Poison Control, or a local emergency number

    The National Poison Control Center (1-800-222-1222) can be called from anywhere in the United States. This national hotline number 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.

    See: Poison control center - emergency number

  • What to expect at the emergency room

    The health care provider will measure and monitor your vital signs, including temperature, pulse, breathing rate, and blood pressure. Symptoms will be treated as appropriate. You may receive:

    • Fluids
    • Medicines to treat an allergic reaction (diphenhydramine, epinephrine, or prednisone)
    • Surgical removal of burned skin (skin debridement)
    • Tube through the mouth into the stomach to wash out the stomach (gastric lavage)
    • Washing of the skin (irrigation) -- perhaps every few hours for several days
  • Expectations (prognosis)

    How well you do depends on the amount of poison swallowed and how quickly treatment is received. The faster you get medical help, the better the chance for recovery.

    Skin problems will clear up when you stop using the product. If the lotion is swallowed, recovery normally occurs if you receive the right treatment in time.

    Most home permanent kits (cold wave lotions) are watered down (diluted) to avoid poisoning. However, some hair salons may use concentrated forms that need to be diluted before use. Exposure to concentrated cold wave lotion will cause much more damage than over-the-counter lotion.

Review Date: 2/6/2009

Reviewed By: A.D.A.M. Editorial Team: David Zieve, MD, MHA, Greg Juhn, MTPW, David R. Eltz. Previously reviewed by Stephen C. Acosta, MD, Department of Emergency Medicine, Portland VA Medical Center, Portland, OR. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network (2/27/2008).

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. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- 2014 A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
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