Merck Manual

Please confirm that you are not located inside the Russian Federation

honeypot link
Quick Facts

Insecticide Poisoning


The Manual's Editorial Staff

Last full review/revision Oct 2019| Content last modified Oct 2019
Click here for the Professional Version
Get the full details

An insecticide (pesticide) is a substance used to kill bugs. The poison (toxin) in insecticides can make you sick.

What is insecticide poisoning?

Insecticide poisoning is sickness from swallowing, breathing in, or touching too much of an insecticide.

  • If too much of an insecticide gets on your clothes or skin, take off your clothes and wash your skin right away

  • You might cough and have breathing problems

  • Your doctor may take a sample of your blood to see if you have insecticide in it

  • Several medicines are available to treat insecticide poisoning

Call for emergency medical assistance (911 in most areas of the United States) if you or someone else may have insecticide poisoning, or call the poison control center for advice (1-800-222-1222 in the United States). The World Health Organization provides a world directory of poison centers.

What are the symptoms of insecticide poisoning?

Symptoms depend on the type of insecticide that poisoned you. There are two major types of insecticides:

  • Organophosphates and carbamates

  • Pyrethrins

Organophosphates and carbamates can cause:

  • Watery eyes or blurry vision

  • Sweating

  • Extra saliva (spit) in your mouth

  • Coughing

  • Throwing up

  • Frequent bowel movements (poop) or urination (pee)

  • Abnormal heart rate

  • Trouble breathing

Pyrethrins are usually less poisonous to people. Symptoms of pyrethrin poisoning include:

  • Sneezing

  • Watery eyes

  • Coughing

  • Sometimes, trouble breathing

How can doctors tell if I've been poisoned by an insecticide?

Doctors will suspect insecticide poisoning based on your symptoms and your description of what happened. They can sometimes test your blood for insecticides.

How do doctors treat insecticide poisoning?

Doctors will have you remove any clothing that touched the insecticide and wash your skin. They’ll give you medicine for your symptoms based on the type of insecticide that poisoned you.

NOTE: This is the Consumer Version. DOCTORS: Click here for the Professional Version
Click here for the Professional Version
Others also read

Also of Interest

Download the Manuals App iOS ANDROID
Download the Manuals App iOS ANDROID
Download the Manuals App iOS ANDROID