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Health Questions

Poinsettia plant exposure

Definition

Poinsettia plants, commonly used during the holidays, are not poisonous. Eating this plant does not usually result in a trip to the hospital.

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

Christmas flower poisoning; Lobster plant poisoning; Painted leaf poisoning

Poisonous Ingredient

Diterpene esters

Where Found

Leaves, stem, sap of the poinsettia plant

Symptoms

  • Eyes (if direct contact occurs):
    • Burning
    • Redness
  • Gastrointestinal symptoms are mild:
    • Nausea
    • Vomiting
    • Stomach ache
  • Skin rash and itching that are mild (See also: Contact dermatitis)

Home Care

Eating this plant does not usually result in a trip to the hospital.

  1. Rinse the mouth out with water if leaves or stems were eaten.
  2. Rinse eyes with water, if needed.
  3. Wash the skin of any area that appears irritated with soap and water.

Before Calling Emergency

Seek medical help if the person has a severe reaction.

Poison Control

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

Symptoms will be treated as appropriate.

Outlook (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.

This plant is not considered toxic. People usually make a full recovery.

References

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: Saunders Elsevier; 2007:chap 24.


Review Date: 12/15/2011
Reviewed By: Eric Perez, MD, St. Luke's / Roosevelt Hospital Center, NY, NY, and Pegasus Emergency Group (Meadowlands and Hunterdon Medical Centers), NJ. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.
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