PARAFFIN AND OTHER PETROLEUM PRODUCTS POISONING

Includes paraffin, petrol, paint thinners, organic solvents, and turpentine.

Clinical features

  • Patient may smell of paraffin/other petroleum product
  • Burning sensation in mouth and throat
  • Patient looks pale (transient cyanosis)
  • Vomiting, diarrhoea, bloody stools
  • Cough, dyspnoea, wheezing, tachypnoea, nasal flaring (due to chemical pneumonitis)
  • Lethargy, convulsions, difficulty in breathing

The main risk is damage to lung tissue due to aspiration.
AVOID gastric lavage or use of emetics as this may lead to inhalation of gastric content and pneumonitis

Differential diagnosis

  • Other causes of poisoning
  • Acute infections

Management

Treatment is supportive and symptomatic

  • Remove clothes and wash skin if contaminated
  • Avoid gastric lavage or use of an emetic
  • Charcoal is NOT useful
  • Give oxygen if patient has hypoxia

Prevention

  • Store paraffin and other petroleum products safely (e.g. in a locked cupboard, out of reach of children)
  • Do not store paraffin and other petroleum products in common beverage bottles