Propyl alcohol is a clear liquid commonly used as a germ killer (antiseptic). This article discusses poisoning from swallowing propyl alcohol.
This article is for information only. Do NOT use it to treat or manage an actual poison exposure. If you or someone you are with has an exposure, call your local emergency number (such as 911), or your local poison center can be reached directly by calling the national toll-free Poison Help hotline (1-800-222-1222) from anywhere in the United States.
N-propyl alcohol; 1-propanol
Propyl alcohol is found in any of the following:
- Rubbing alcohol
- Alcohol swabs
- Skin and hair products
- Nail polish remover
Note: This list may not be all inclusive.
Symptoms may include:
- Abdominal pain
- Decreased alertness, even coma
- Decreased or absent reflexes
- Lethargy (tiredness)
- Low blood pressure
- Low urine output
- Nausea and vomiting
- Slowed or labored breathing
- Uncoordinated movements
- Vomiting, sometimes bloody
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.
Your local poison center can be reached directly by calling the national toll-free Poison Help hotline (1-800-222-1222) from anywhere in the United States. 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.
What to Expect at the Emergency Room
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)
- 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).
US National Library of Medicine; Specialized Information Services; Toxicology Data Network. N-propanol. Updated March 13, 2008. toxnet.nlm.nih.gov. Accessed February 9, 2017.
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:chap 155.
Reviewed By: Jacob L. Heller, MD, MHA, Emergency Medicine, Virginia Mason Medical Center, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.