Calcium hydroxide is a white powder produced by mixing calcium oxide ("lime") with water. Calcium hydroxide poisoning occurs when someone swallows this substance.
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.
Hydrate - calcium; Lime milk; Slaked lime
Many industrial solvents and cleaners (hundreds to thousands of construction products, flooring strippers, brick cleaners, cement thickening products, and many others)
No lye hair relaxers/straighteners
Note: This list may not include all sources of calcium hydroxide.
Eyes, ears, nose, and throat
Loss of vision
Severe pain in the throat
Severe pain or burning in the nose, eyes, ears, lips, or tongue
Too much or too little acid in the blood (leads to organ damage)
Breathing difficulty (from breathing in substance)
Throat swelling (which may also cause breathing difficulty)
Holes (necrosis) in the skin or tissues underneath
Seek immediate medical help. Do NOT make a person throw up unless told to do so by poison control or a health care professional.
If the chemical is on the skin or in the eyes, flush with lots of water for at least 15 minutes.
If the chemical was swallowed, immediately give the person water or milk, unless instructed otherwise by a health care provider. Do NOT give water or milk if the patient is having symptoms (such as vomiting, convulsions, or a decreased level of alertness) that make it hard to swallow.
If the person breathed in the poison, immediately move him or her to fresh air.
Before Calling Emergency
Determine the following information:
Patient's age, weight, and condition
Name of the product (ingredients and strengths, if known)
Time it was swallowed
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.
The health care provider will measure and monitor your vital signs, including temperature, pulse, breathing rate, and blood pressure. Symptoms will be treated as appropriate. You may receive:
Bronchoscopy -- camera down the throat to see burns to the airways and lungs
Endoscopy -- camera down the throat to see burns in the esophagus and the stomach
Fluids through a vein (by IV)
Medicine (antidote) to reverse the effect of the poison
Surgical removal of burned skin (skin debridement)
Tube through the mouth into the stomach to wash out the stomach (gastric lavage)
Washing of the skin (irrigation) -- perhaps every few hours for several days
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.
Swallowing this poison can have severe effects on many parts of the body. If a chemical burn occurred in the eye, permanent blindness can result.
Damage continues to occur to the esophagus and stomach for several weeks after the poison was swallowed.
Wax PM, Yarema M. Corrosives. 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 98.
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. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc.