A child is poisoned or burned by beauty products approximately every two hours in the US.
According to new research by the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Center for Injury Research and Policy, 64,686 children younger than five were treated in US emergency departments for injuries related to personal care products from 2002 to 2016 – about one child every two hours – and the figure is unlikely to have decreased since.
Published in Clinical Pediatrics, the study found that the top three product categories leading to injuries were nail care products (28.3 percent), hair care products (27 percent), and skincare products (25 percent) followed by fragrance products (12.7 percent).
Nail polish remover was the individual product that led to the most number of visits to the emergency room (17.3 percent of all injuries) while more than half of the more serious injuries that required hospitalisation were caused by hair care products (52.4 percent).
Most injuries occurred when a child swallowed the product (75.7 percent) or the product made contact with a child’s skin or eyes (19.3 percent). These ingestions and exposures most often led to poisonings (86.2 percent) or chemical burns (13.8 percent).
Study co-author Rebecca McAdams, a senior research associate in the Center for Injury Research and Policy, said adults can understand how such injuries occur when they “think about what young children see when they look at these products”.
“Kids this age can’t read, so they don’t know what they are looking at,” she said.
“They see a bottle with a colorful label that looks or smells like something they are allowed to eat or drink, so they try to open it and take a swallow.
“When the bottle turns out to be nail polish remover instead of juice, or lotion instead of yogurt, serious injuries can occur.”
In addition, she said children’s “ease of access” to such products increased the risk of such injuries.
“Children watch their parents use these items and may try to imitate their behavior,” she said.
“Since these products are often stored in easy-to-reach places and are not typically in child-resistant containers, it is can be easy for kids to get to and open the bottles.
“Because these products are currently not required to have child-resistant packaging, it is important for parents to put them away immediately after use and store them safely – up, away, and out of sight – preferably in a cabinet or closet with a lock or a latch.”
In addition, the report recommends that parents:
- Never leave personal care products out unattended and put them away immediately after use.
- Keep all personal care products in their original containers.
- Save New Zealand’s Nation Poisons hotline (0800 764-766) number in their mobile phone and post it near their home phones.