Personal care products like shampoo, lotion, nail polish and cologne may send one child to the hospital every two hours due to poisoning and chemical burns, according to a US study published on Monday. Researchers at the Nationwide Children's Hospital found that 64,686 children younger than five years of age were treated in US emergency departments for injuries related to personal care products from 2002 through 2016.
The study, published in the journal Clinical Pediatrics, found that most injuries from these products occurred when a child swallowed the product (75.7 per cent) or the product made contact with a child's skin or eyes (19.3 per cent).
These ingestions and exposures most often led to poisonings (86.2 per cent) or chemical burns (13.8 per cent), researchers said. "When you think about what young children see when they look at these products, you start to understand how these injuries can happen," said Rebecca McAdams, a senior research associate at Nationwide Children's Hospital.
"Kids this age can't read, so they don't know what they are looking at. They see a bottle with a colourful 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," McAdams said.
The top three product categories leading to injuries were nail care products (28.3 per cent) hair care products (27.0 per cent), and skin care products (25.0 per cent), followed by fragrance products (12.7 per cent).
Nail polish remover was the individual product that led to the most number of visits to the emergency room (17.3 per cent of all injuries). Of the more serious injuries that required hospitalisation, more than half were from hair care products (52.4 per cent) with hair relaxers and permanent solutions leading to more hospitalisations than all other products.
Also, of concern, is the ease of access to these products, researchers said. "Children watch their parents use these items and may try to imitate their behaviour. Since these products are often stored in easy-to-reach places and are not typically in child-resistant containers, it can be easy for kids to get to and open the bottles," said McAdams.
"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, preferably in a cabinet or closet with a lock or a latch.
"These simple steps can prevent many injuries and trips to the emergency department," she said. Researchers also recommend that pediatricians discuss these safe storage guidelines with caregivers during well-child visits.