A recent study in the journal Clinical Pediatrics found that children under 5 are being sent to the emergency room, on average, every two hours for cosmetics-related injuries. About 60% are kids under two.
For this study, the researchers considered data from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System from between 2002 and 2016. During that time, 64,686 children under 5 were treated in the ER for injuries related to beauty products.
Three-quarters of the injuries involved children swallowing personal care items and becoming poisoned. Babies and toddlers use their mouths to explore, and they’ll taste almost anything. And, personal care items usually don’t come in child-resistant bottles.
The other common scenario is for kids to get chemical burns on their skin or in their eyes from contact with the products.
The most common products to cause child injuries were:
- Nail care products, with nail polish remover accounting for 17% of the injuries
- Hair care products, such as hair relaxers, which accounted for over half of the injuries
- Skin care products like moisturizers, deodorants and skin oils
Fortunately, children generally stop once they feel pain. Therefore, the injuries are often relatively minor — temporary throat burning or eye irritation. However, hair products can burn the mouth and esophagus, and those injuries can be significant.
Protect your little ones with these 3 steps
First, be aware that toddlers and preschoolers are climbers and can be persistent, so storing these products on a high shelf may not be enough. Instead, store beauty products in a cabinet with a lock or childproof latch.
Second, always store beauty products in their original containers so that you’ll have access to the precise ingredient list. This could be crucial in case of an emergency.
Finally, save this number in your cellphone now: 1-800-222-1222. Then, make sure it’s somewhere easy for a babysitter to find. It’s the number of the American Association of Poison Control Centers, and it will connect you with your local 24-hour poison control hotline.
If you believe your child may have ingested a possible poison and has either collapsed or become unconscious, call 911 immediately. Before that happens, protect your kids by moving beauty products to a place they cannot access.
“I tell all the parents I see in the ER to go home and get down on their hands and knees and walk around the house like they’re a child,” says a pediatric ER director interviewed by Consumer Reports. “What they see at eye level is what their kids will get into-especially if it’s in an exciting, shiny container or smells good.”