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Propyl alcohol

Propyl alcohol is a clear liquid commonly used as a germ killer (antiseptic). This article discusses poisoning from swallowing propyl alcohol.

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 a local poison control center at 1-800-222-1222.

Poisonous Ingredient

Isopropyl alcohol

Where Found

  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Alcohol swabs
  • Skin and hair products
  • Nail polish remover

Note: This list may not be all inclusive.


Symptoms may include:

Home Care

Seek immediate medical help. DO NOT make a person throw up unless told to do so by Poison Control or a health care professional.

Before Calling Emergency

The following information is helpful for emergency assistance:

  • The person's age, weight, and condition
  • The name of the product (ingredients and strengths if known)
  • When it was swallowed
  • The amount swallowed

However, DO NOT delay calling for help if this information is not immediately available.

Poison Control What to Expect at the Emergency Room

In the United States, call 1-800-222-1222 to speak with a local poison control center. This 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.

The health care provider will measure and monitor the person's vital signs, including temperature, pulse, breathing rate, and blood pressure. The person may receive:

  • Activated charcoal
  • Airway support, including oxygen, breathing tube through the mouth (intubation),and ventilator (breathing machine)
  • Blood and urine tests
  • Chest x-ray
  • EKG (electrocardiogram, or heart tracing)
  • Fluids through the vein (intravenous or IV)
  • Laxative
  • Medicines to treat symptoms

Propyl alcohol poisoning is very rarely deadly. Long term effects are possible, including kidney failure which could require dialysis (kidney machine).


Goldfrank LR, ed. Goldfrank's Toxicologic Emergencies. 8th ed. New York, NY: McGraw Hill; 2006.

White SR. Toxic alcohols. In: Marx JA, Hockberger RS, Walls RM, et al., eds. Rosen's Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice. 8th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2014:chap155.

Review Date: 1/17/2015
Reviewed By: Jacob L. Heller, MD, MHA, Emergency Medicine, Virginia Mason Medical Center, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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