What are the symptoms of bleach poisoning?

Symptoms of bleach poisoning it will depend on how the contact with said substance wasi.e. if it has been inhaled, ingested or splashed into the eyes. In this sense, burning and redness of the skin or mucous membranes, nausea, cough, sore throat and even arrhythmias can occur.

Bleach is used extensively when cleaning at home. However, it must be used with caution, as its main component is sodium hypochlorite.

In this article we explain what are the most frequent symptoms of bleach poisoning, what to do if we accidentally inhale or ingest it, and how to use this product correctly, in order to prevent domestic accidents.

What is bleach and what is it for?

Bleach, in some countries it is also known as bleach OR sodium hypochlorite, is an aqueous solution based on said substance. This chemical can be found in cleaning and laundry products, bleach, and water purifiers.

Its concentrations in household products range from 3% to 6%. Those used in swimming pools can reach 10%.

Bleach is useful in cleaning the house, applied to the places where bacteria accumulate the most, from the kitchen and bathroom to the bedrooms and cellar. Likewise, to disinfect laboratory materials (non-metallic or containing no organic material), as well as in various surfaces or coatings in sanitary spaces.

Due to its characteristics, It is considered adequate for eliminating microbes, fungi and other microorganismsachieving disinfection and minimizing the risk of contracting or spreading disease.

Symptoms of bleach poisoning

Despite all these cleaning benefits, if not used properly it can be dangerous. Not only for the person handling it, but also for the children and even the pets in the house.

It should be noted that, at home, abuse can result from mixing sodium hypochlorite with other substancessuch as hydrochloric acid or ammonia. This is one of the common mistakes made when cleaning with bleach.

The symptoms of bleach poisoning, on the other hand, can vary depending on the form of contact, the area of ​​the body exposed, the concentration of the substance, as well as the time of exposure.

Bleach for cleaning.
Bleach is widely distributed around the world. It is bought in supermarkets and small shops.

Skin contact

In household products, sodium hypochlorite is 5%. Sometimes less. Also in these aqueous solutions, bleach can irritate the skin of sensitive people, causing burning or redness.

But in higher concentrations, hypochlorite behaves like an alkaline caustic, which becomes corrosive. Causes burns and blisters in the affected area.

Interestingly, 0.05% bleach baths are used for the treatment of atopic dermatitis. This it appears to have anti-inflammatory effects and helps improve symptomsreducing the concentration of bacteria such as Staphylococcus aureuswithout resorting to corticosteroids or topical antibiotics.

Eye contact

In the eyes and other mucous membranes, when combined with proteins and fats, the chemical action of sodium hypochlorite on the tissues is direct. Burns, burning, and a feeling of severe pain may occur.; but in less severe cases there is redness, inflammation and tearing.


As mentioned, mixing bleach with other products, whether household or industrial, produces a reaction in which chlorine vapors are released.

Inhaling them can trigger several reactions:

  • At one part per million (1 ppm), in sensitive people, irritation of the nasal mucosa occurs, ocular and pharyngealas well as runny nose, cough, choking sensation, watery eyes and dryness.
  • At 30ppm, even with short exposures, chest pain, nausea and vomitingirregular breathing, coughing fits, headache.
  • At 40 ppm or higher, glottis edema may occur.pain in the pleura, obstructive bronchitis and breathing difficulties.
  • In severe cases, hypoxemia and pulmonary edema occur.


In case of ingestion, accidental or intentional, the symptoms of bleach poisoning will also depend on the concentration, as well as the amount ingested. With domestic products at 5% the following signals appear:

  • Stomach ache.
  • Nausea and vomit.
  • Ulcers on the mucous membranes.
  • Low blood pressure.
  • Burns in the esophagus, mouth or throat.

Even if in one revision conducted in 2018, an average of 45,000 annual cases of bleach poisoning were reported in the United States, only 1 death was reported in four years.

What to do if you get bleach poisoning?

If someone accidentally ingests bleach, you should first of all keep calm. Under no circumstances should you induce vomiting.as this could further irritate the mucous membranes.

The use of a nasogastric tube, intestinal lavage, the administration of activated charcoal or neutralization with alkalis or acids is also not recommended. At the very least you should rinse your mouth with water.

And if no swallowing difficulties are experienced, the water can be drunk slowly to dilute the concentration of the product. Or even small sips of milk.

But this is not recommended if more than an hour has passed since ingestion and the person cannot swallow. Or if attempts to swallow trigger coughing fits.

In patients without digestive symptoms, a gastric protector may be recommended. Those with symptoms should undergo some tests and continue treatment for several days.

On the other hand, when hypochlorite has come into contact with the skin, all clothing should be removed and the affected area washed with plenty of water. The saline solution can be used on the ocular mucous membranes.

If a child is suspected of ingesting bleach, they should be taken to a hospital ward immediately.

How to prevent bleach poisoning?

Everything we’ve seen so far does not mean we stop using the product. However, we must take some steps to prevent bleach poisoning.

Among these measures we have the following:

  • Open the windows before you start cleaning so that the space is ventilated.
  • Use the face mask or chin strap to reduce the chances of inhalation.
  • Wear protective clothing. Pants and long-sleeved shirts are better to avoid contact with the skin.
  • Wear work gloves make them thick

Do not mix bleach with other cleaning products. And last but not least, keep this and other substances out of the reach of children and pets.

The post What are the symptoms of bleach poisoning? first appeared on research-school



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