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 matches
Toxicity? Depends on the amount swallowed
Most common symptoms if swallowed? Upset stomach
When to seek immediate help and call 911? Choking or difficulty breathing.
Has your child swallowed matches?
Generally, matches are not toxic, and most cases will not require medical attention. The most common side effect is an upset stomach. However, there are a few special cases that need to be considered:
How many matches did your child eat, and were the matches recently lit?
- If your child is young and could have swallowed more than 12 matches, call the Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222. The chemicals in the match head can cause damage to the kidneys and liver (this is rare).
- If the matches were lit not long before they were swallowed, there is danger that they could cause an internal burn. Like most small objects, they can also be a choking hazard. In these cases, seek immediate help and call 911.
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. If more than 12 matches were swallowed by a young child, call the Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222.
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 matches
- Upset stomach — Watch for abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting and/or diarrhea though it should be brief.
- Choking hazard — Watch for signs of difficulty breathing, grabbing at the neck, wheezing and/or coughing. See immediate help and call 911.
- Mouth pain — Watch for changes in taste, mouth stinging and/or sore throat, though it should be brief. If the match was recently lit, a burn can occur. Seek immediate help and call 911.
- Skin pain — Watch for redness or itching, though it should be brief. If the match was recently lit, a burn can occur. Seek immediate help and call 911.
- Eye pain — Watch for redness, itching and/or tearing, though it should be brief. If the match was recently lit, a burn can occur. Seek immediate help and call 911.
- Call the Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222 if dark, tea-colored urine develops.
Prevention and safety tips
- Don’t leave used matches out. Throw them away when you have finished using them.
- Keep matches out of reach and sight of children.
- Keep matches away from an open flame or heat source.
Ingredients we're looking at
- Wood or cardboard
- Potassium chlorate
- Zinc oxide or calcium carbonate