Kerosene poisoning

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An individual might end up with kerosene poisoning after accidental or intentional ingestion of the substance. It is important to note that kerosene is the by-product of petroleum distillation. It is a colorless liquid with a characteristic odor that is utilized as a fuel both commercially and domestically.

Poisoning can occur via ingestion or inhalation of kerosene. In some cases, the chemical might enter the eyes which leads to eye-related signs. This toxic substance is also highly combustible.

Indications of kerosene poisoning

An individual suspected with kerosene poisoning might have symptoms that range from mild to severe. Various bodily systems can be affected once poisoning occurs.

The usual indications of kerosene poisoning generally include:

  • Respiratory issues if the chemical is inhaled
  • Burning sensation that can be accompanied by discomfort in the throat, mouth and esophagus
  • Inflamed throat that results to difficulty breathing and swallowing
  • Skin burns
  • Visual issues including loss of vision
  • Lethargy
  • Headache
  • Nausea and vomiting
    Kerosene poisoning
    Inflamed throat that results to difficulty breathing and swallowing.
  • Blood-streaked stools
  • Abdominal pain
  • Reduced level of alertness or response
  • Dizziness or drowsiness
  • Low blood pressure
  • Difficulty walking and poorly coordinated movements
  • Seizures
  • Collapse


The initial step is to call for emergency assistance if an individual is suspected with kerosene poisoning. Call the poison control center for instructions on what to do.

  • The individual should be moved out from the area where exposure occurs.
  • Check the individual for a pulse rate and if he/she is breathing.
  • If kerosene enters the eyes, thoroughly rinse with flowing water. The same is done if the skin was exposed.
  • If the substance was ingested, provide water to drink immediately. Do not provide anything orally if the individual is vomiting or has reduced level of alertness.

Once the individual is taken to the healthcare facility, bring the container or bottle of the compound along.

What is the outlook?

The outcome is generally good if the individual was provided with prompt medical and supportive care.

Due to the poisonous quality of kerosene, the seriousness of the symptoms and potential outcome is based on the amount of chemical ingested and promptness of treatment.

In some instances, the damage to the mouth, throat or GI tract can be serious. This can lead to intense pain, bleeding, infection and even aggravate the outcome. The internal injuries can worsen, and death has been reported after a few weeks to months after the poisoning.

More Information / Disclaimer

The information posted on this page on kerosene poisoning is for learning purposes only. Learn to recognize the signs and how it is managed by taking a standard first aid course with Red Deer First Aid.

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