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Child Safety Alert: Hidden Dangers in Your Cosmetic Cabinet

Household toxins send small children to the emergency room daily. If you are like most parents, you are most concerned about the dangers of household cleaning products and their harmful effects on the lives of your children. But,have you considered the poisons in your beauty cabinet?

Beauty products, such as hair relaxers, fragrances, lotions, nail polishes and removers, moisturizers, and deodorant cause children under the age of 5 to visit the emergency room every two hours, according to a new study.

Rebecca McAdams, a Senior Research Associate at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio and study co-author says, “These products are ubiquitous in United States homes, but if an infant or toddler gets into them, they can cause serious injury.”

Types of Injuries

Between 2002 – 2016, nearly 65,000 kids under age of 5 were treated in emergency rooms for cosmetics-related injuries. More than half of those were children under the age of 2. 

The majority of those children swallowed a beauty product. Mc Adams explains, “These products are marketed to smell and look good, and babies and toddlers explore the world by putting things into their mouths. Kids who are a little older—ages 2 to 4—can’t read yet, so if they see a product that looks or smells like something they’re allowed to eat, like a piece of soap shaped like a chocolate bar, they’ll try it.”

Chemical burn was the second most common injury experienced by children in this study and that occurred most often among children between 2 to 4.

Products Causing Injuries

Under examination were also the types of products associated with the injuries. The top three were nail care, hair care, and skin care products. Nail polish remover was led to the greatest number of visits to the emergency room, accounting for nearly 17 percent of all injuries. However, more than half of the injuries that required hospitalization after emergency treatment were due to hair care products, specifically hair relaxers.

According to C. Anthoney Lim, M.D., medical director of the Pediatric Emergency Department and Pediatric Short Stay Unit at Mount Sinai Beth Israel in New York, “Hair products can be particularly dangerous because they can cause chemical burns both in the mouth and esophagus that can lead to significant injuries.”

Safety Tips

Be sure your personal care products are stored securely. Place these items out of the reach of small children.

Leave products in original packaging. The packaging contains important information that will be useful to those treating your child if the unthinkable should happen. Also, this helps you to remember what is in what containers.

Know your resources. There are more than 50 poison control centers in that provide free, 24-hour professional assistance from pharmacists, physicians, and nurses who are toxicology specialists. All centers can be reached by calling the same telephone number: 800-222-1222. Be sure to add this as a contact in your phone.

Did you know about the potential dangers of cosmetics to your small children? Are there other products that we didn’t mention? Tell us in the comments below. You can also contact us for more information! Feel free to shoot us an email to You can also find us on TwitterFacebook, InstagramLinkedIn, or even connect with us directly on our website!

About the Author: Aisha K. Staggers is a writer, lecturer, political analyst and literary agent. She appears weekly for “Staggers’ State of Things” on the Dr. Vibe Show. Her work has been published by Paper Magazine, AfroPunk, The Spool, GREY Journal, MTV News, HuffPost, Blavity, Atlanta Blackstar, For Harriet, New York Review of Books and a host of other first-run publications and syndicated outlets. Find her on Twitter @AishaStaggers. For more of her work, check out her page here!

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