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Poinsettia plant exposure

Poinsettia plants, commonly used during the holidays, are not poisonous. Eating this plant does not usually result in a trip to the hospital.

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.

Alternative Names

Christmas flower poisoning; Lobster plant poisoning; Painted leaf poisoning

Poisonous Ingredient

Diterpene esters

Where Found

Leaves, stem, sap of the poinsettia plant

Symptoms

Eyes (if direct contact occurs):

  • Burning
  • Redness

Gastrointestinal (symptoms are mild):

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Stomach ache

Skin:

  • Skin rash and itching

Home Care

Eating this plant does not usually result in a trip to the hospital.

Rinse the mouth out with water if leaves or stems were eaten.

  1. Rinse eyes with water, if needed.
  2. Wash the skin of any area that appears irritated with soap and water.

Before Calling Emergency

Seek medical help if the person has a severe reaction.

Poison Control

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.

See: Poison control center - emergency number

What to Expect at the Emergency Room

Symptoms will be treated as appropriate.

Outlook (Prognosis)

How well the person does depends on the amount of poison swallowed and how quickly treatment is received. The faster the person gets medical help, the better the chance for recovery.

This plant is not considered toxic. People usually make a full recovery.

Prevention

Do not touch or eat any plant with which you are not familiar. Wash your hands after working in the garden or walking in the woods.

References

Graeme, KA. Toxic Plant Ingestions. In: Auerbach PS, ed. Wilderness Medicine. 6th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Mosby Elsevier; 2011:chap 64.

Smolinske SC, Daubert GP, Spoerke DG. Poisonous plants. 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 24.

Updated: 10/21/2013

Jacob L. Heller, MD, MHA, Emergency Medicine, Virginia Mason Medical Center, Seattle, Washington. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.


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