Why Are Camphor Products Toxic and Dangerous For Young Children

Why Are Camphor Products Toxic and Dangerous For Young Children

18 May 2022 | 4 min Read

Reema Shah

Author | 312 Articles

Camphor is a waxy substance that appears white or transparent and is prepared by distilling the bark and wood of the camphor tree. It is mostly manufactured from turpentine oil. There are multiple camphor products available in the market that are used for religious rituals, medicinal purposes and cooking. 

However, the chemicals present in turpentine oil are harmful for children and can sometimes even put children at a great the risk in case they swallow it. This is commonly known as camphor poisoning. 

Camphor incense smoke when inhaled by babies can cause breathing problems / Credit – Medical Daily

Why Should Young Children Avoid Camphor Products?

Camphor is used as an ingredient in many inhalants, ointments,and oils, because of its aroma but it is a very toxic compound which can be fatal for infants and children even if they ingest small doses.

There are certain instances where camphor products should be avoided by both mum and baby. Here are some of them- 

When Applied to the Skin

Camphor can cause skin redness and irritation in babies and young children. They can be irritating to the skin. Additionally, when applied to broken and injured skin, it can get easily absorbed into the child’s skin and reach toxic levels in the body.

Doctors advise against the use of camphor products for babies and children. This is because small children tend to put everything in their mouths. Hence, camphor poisoning due to accidental ingestion is highly likely to happen. 

Keep children away from any household toxic substances and products that might have camphor. It can cause seizures and death if these products are eaten. 

When Inhaled

Children, in specific, should avoid inhaling camphor products as they are toxic. Even when ingested in a single dose through medicine or in a small quantity as a rub, it can cause serious illness or even death of the child. 

While inhalation of camphor fumes is not harmful as per any evidence, ingestion of camphor can cause nausea or vomiting and in the worst cases – convulsions.

Camphor Products During Pregnancy And Breastfeeding

It is not safe to ingest camphor during pregnancy or breastfeeding. No research has shown reliable information on whether it’s safe to apply camphor during this period. Hence, it’s better to stay safe by avoiding using it.

Keep the containers of camphor tablets away from reach of children to avoid accidental ingestion/ Credit – Exporters India

What to do If My Child Ingests Camphor

There have been cases in the past where children had seizures due to camphor ingestion. The seizures can last for a prolonged period and even put your child at risk of brain damage as the mucus gets irritated. Take your child to the emergency ward of the hospital in case your child ingests camphor. 

How to Keep Children Safe from Camphor Products

Here are some ways to keep your child safe from accidentally ingesting camphor-

  • Keep camphor tablets in the Puja room or any other section away from children
  • Avoid keeping camphor based cleaning products within the reach of children
  • Educate your little ones that the camphor products in your house are not meant for consumption
  • Do not transfer camphor-based products in food and beverage containers. Let them stay in the original container.

Safe Alternatives to Cure Cold in Young Children

Children under 2 years of age should not be exposed to products that have camphor. If you want to cure your little one’s cold and cough, use these natural ways instead of using camphor products-

  • Give them plenty of fluids such as breastmilk or formula milk if the baby is below 6 months of age
  • For older infants and children, feed them soups and avoid any carbonated and sugary drinks
  • Use natural vapour patches free of camphor that ease the baby from congestion
  • Create a steam room in the bathroom by closing the bathroom door to clear out the blockages
  • Try giving a warm sponge bath which can help bring down the fever
  • Give a spoonful of honey before bedtime to children above the age of 1 year

Take necessary precautions with a little one around in the house to avoid them from getting exposed to toxic camphor products. Do not give them any medicines without consultation from the doctor to avoid accidental contact. 

Cover image credit – Indiatimes.com

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