Plant Poisoning from Oxalates Treatment & Management

Updated: Feb 19, 2020
  • Author: Jason F Kearney, MD, MBA; Chief Editor: Sage W Wiener, MD  more...
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Treatment

Prehospital Care

Decontaminate mouth, eye, and skin by physically removing all plant material. Treat eye and skin exposure with copious water irrigation. Rescuers should protect themselves from contact with plant materials.

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Emergency Department Care

Most exposures are self-limited and only require analgesics for patient comfort.

For oral exposures, physically remove any plant material in the oral cavity. Assess for any airway compromise. Individuals without airway compromise can drink cold liquids and eat crushed ice, ice cream, or frozen ice pops or desserts for relief. [7] Oral swishing with diphenhydramine elixir provides local anesthetic and antihistaminic effects. Individuals with laryngeal edema may be treated with antihistamines and observed and/or admitted until edema improves. No clinical data support use of steroids in laryngeal edema induced by oxalate-containing plants.

Treat eye exposures with copious water irrigation. Employ slit lamp examination and fluorescein staining to rule out corneal involvement.

Skin exposures require irrigation with fluid and local wound care. Some individuals may develop a contact dermatitis.

Most oxalate exposures do not require any follow-up.

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Consultations

Nearly all cases of houseplant exposures involving oxalate-containing plant species are managed at home in consultation with a regional poison control center. Poison control centers may be helpful with plant identification, particularly if a fax copy or digital picture of the plant can be transmitted. Patients with eye involvement should follow up with an ophthalmologist.

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