Glow Sticks

If you have any questions or concerns about a poisoning, call your local poison control center at 1-800-222-1222. Calls to The Poison Control Center at CHOP are always free, confidential, and staffed by pharmacist and nurse experts. 

Quick take on ingesting glow sticks

Toxicity? Minimal

Most common symptoms if swallowed? Upset stomach

When to seek immediate help and call 911? Choking or difficulty breathing.

Has your child swallowed glow stick fluid?

This is a call we receive frequently, especially around the Fourth of July. Take a deep breath. The ingredients in glow sticks are generally non-toxic, and most cases will not require medical attention. However, if glow stick fluid is swallowed, it may cause an upset stomach and some mouth irritation. The plastic container can also be a choking hazard, just like any small object that a child can put in their mouth. There are simple steps you can take to help treat these side effects below.

Three common methods of poison exposure

In mouth or eaten? Give water and small snacks to help reduce the taste and upset stomach. Watch for mouth pain. If the child is choking or has difficulty breathing, seek immediate help and call 911.

On skin? Wash affected area with soap and water. If skin irritation occurs, call the Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222.

In eyes? Flush eyes with water for at least 15 minutes. If eye irritation continues, call the Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222.

What to expect from glow sticks

  • Upset stomach — Watch for abdominal pain, nausea and/or vomiting. These symptoms are often mild and short lived. However, persistent symptoms should be evaluated and treated by a healthcare professional.
  • Choking hazard — Watch for signs of difficulty breathing, grabbing at the neck, wheezing and/or coughing. See immediate help and call 911.
  • Mouth discomfort — Watch for pain, difficulty swallowing or speaking. Changes in taste and mild throat soreness may occur, and should resolve on its own.
  • Skin irritation — Watch for redness, itching or discomfort. Again, these symptoms rarely require treatment and should resolve on their own.
  • Eye pain — Watch for redness, itching and/or tearing. These symptoms are rarely serious, however, continued or severe discomfort requires evaluation by a healthcare professional.

Prevention and safety tips

  • Supervise children while they are playing with glow sticks.
  • Immediately dispose of broken glow sticks in the trash.

Ingredients we're looking at

  • Fluorophore dyes: for color
  • Diphenyl oxalate: energy for light
  • Hydrogen peroxide: energy for light
  • Dibutyl phthalate: solvent

Next Steps
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What to Expect When You Call

When you call the Poison Control Center, we will ask you a series of questions. Here's what we'll need to know so we can help.

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