Help! My Son Ate Hydrocortisone Cream!

By Shannon Gosney
In Blogging Randomness
February 15, 2010

My 2 year old son after he ate hydrocortisone cream…
February 2010 a (2)

In our house, we have Desitin and Hydrocortisone Cream, both of which are kept in the “diaper basket.”  My almost 2 year old is also learning to brush his teeth – with the fruity Oral-B toothpaste – ya know with bears and Thomas the Train? I think he sucks more of it than he actually gets on his teeth, unless I’m brushing them!

The other night, I had just finished changing dirty diapers and stepped away to properly dispose of the diapers in the diaper champ.  I left the diaper basket on the floor, making a bee line straight to the trash and then the sink to wash my hands.  When I returned, I found my almost 2 year old son with white stuff all over his hands and face, on the rug, and making this fake coughing noise – like he was trying to clear his throat.

I immediately panicked and thought…”Oh no!  The desitin!”  In the grasp of his small hands was not a tube of desitin, but a tube of hydrocortisone cream, which was still open and squirting out of the tube in his hands.  I took the tube away from him and told him to say “aww” – looking into his mouth.  I’m not quite sure how I would have attempted to get the white stuff out of his mouth if it were in there, but I told him to open his mouth anyways.  I wiped his hands and face with a wipe (this gets the oily residue off really well) and then briefly wiped up the carpet.

I picked up the phone and dialed poison control – the 2nd easiest number in the world to remember – 1-800-222-1222.  I told the woman on the other end what happened and she seemed quite calm about it.  I was seeking her help for fear my toddler ate Hydrocortisone Cream.

Woman:  How much was in the tube?

Me:  It’s a 2 oz tube.

Woman: What percentage was it?  Was their anything else in it, like pain relievers?

Me: 2% Hydrocortisone Cream with Aloe Vera

Woman: How much do you think he had?  A teaspoon maybe?

Me:  Maybe that or less.

Woman:  He should be fine.  There may be vomitting if he ate a lot of it, but it sounds like he didn’t ingest too much so he should be fine.  He could eat an ounce of it and still be fine.

Me:  Wow!  Thank goodness it wasn’t an ounce!

I thought a squirt or two was scary!  I couldn’t imagine how I would be feeling if he ate 1/2 the tube!  She said I could give him some milk and that might help a little bit, but otherwise he should be fine.

Thank goodness for Poison Control!  You’ve helped this mommy once again!

I was not compensated for writing this post.  This comes from my own experience as a mother of boys.  All opinions are 100% mine!



About Has 4152 Posts

Shannon Gurnee is the author of RedheadMom formerly "The Mommy-Files", a national blog with a loyal following. She has a Bachelor's Degree in Marriage, Family, and Human Development with a Minor in Business Management. Shannon and her husband, Frank, have a large family with 6 awesome kids and love living on the Central Coast near San Luis Obispo, California, as well as traveling around the world. A full-time Social Media and Professional Blogger, Shannon also serves as a National Brand Ambassador for many well-known companies. Her blog focuses on motherhood, family fun activities, traveling, fashion, beauty, technology, wedding ideas and recipes while providing professional opinions on products, performances, restaurants, and a variety of businesses.

71 Responses to “Help! My Son Ate Hydrocortisone Cream!”

  1. Caryn B says:

    My son ate a Tums once…..sigh….

    • Shannon Gosney says:

      It can definitely be scary when they are that little. sigh. 🙁

    • Brennen says:

      I literally did the exact same thing right now. I was at my friends and I needed to borrow toothpaste and grabbed the bottle of cortisone 10. Why the hell would they put this stuff in a bottle shaped EXACTLY like a toothpaste bottle. I hope I survive. Debated whether to call poison control. I hope I have the same fate as your husband. Wish me luck fellow idiots who end up googling “I just used cortisone 10 to brush my teeth wtf do I do” and come across this site . Stay safe and may the force be with you

      • Alby says:

        Thank you I just did the same thing. I’m going to blame the tubes at this rate. Just swallowed a dab but I feel alright. God, take the wheel.

        • Florencia Forte says:

          I do the same thing tonight. I thought it’s the toothpaste but while brushing I noticed it didn’t bubble and the taste is not the toothpaste! I panic myself but I know there is non of it I swallowed, if any a little. Now, I come to a rescue of my friend Mr Google. THANK friends for calming my heartbeat down! Sometimes in our life, we come toa point of not being careful..really sorry for myself and I will my story to my friends so they may not be like me. Mr GOOGLE you are my refuge!

      • Jason says:

        I did the same thing. The package looks like the red brand of toothpaste. I felt so stupid.

      • Joyce says:

        I just brushed my teeth with cortisone 10 this morning. It is the same color tube as the tooth paste. I called poison control and he said he gets at least 10 calls a week for this. Why do they put it in a tube that is similar to the tooth paste? I felt so stupid. I will not put them in the same place again. But I feel better now that I know there are other people that has done the same thing. Be careful and safe and God Bless.

      • Brianna says:

        Just happened to me right now too! I checked the ingredients and it was only 1% Hydrocortisone so that’s good

        • Jay Fitzroy says:

          Me too! woke up in the middle of the night and had a snack and brushed my teeth after…with hydrocortisone! Tube looks just like a tube of Colgate toothpaste…my wife must have put it in my bag for the kids. hahahaha I laughed at all the ‘me too comments so I had to add mine.

      • Paul says:

        I’m in my 70’s. Last week I didn’t put my glasses on and grabbed my red and white tube of toothpaste thinking that is what it is….it was a red and white tube of cortizone 10/ Tasted bad left a film in my mouth, put my glasses on and saw the mistake I made. Soon afterwards I was in my store, stared feeling ill, vomiting, extreme weakness and on the floor of the store bathroom. Called the VA hospital, spoke with a nurse who said to go to the emergency room immediately. Called my wife who transported me there and all the way continued vomiting. Spent 3 hours in the ER on IV’s, one to stop vomiting. Started to feel better and left. Several points to my epistle. One is the tube shouldn’t be packaged with the same color scheme as anything that is put in the mouth. Second point is the degree and severity and reaction to such injestion can be varied. Some won’t get sick, some will slightly, and like myself with underlying conditions and taking a handful of prescriptions every morning the result can be severe. Bottom line is it won’t kill you but can make you nauseated and cause vomiting. I now keep that tube in the bathroom away from my toothpaste to avoid a repeat of a bad experience. thanks for your posting about your child, it answered my questions.

  2. pixie13 says:

    I’ve made that phone call. In my case it was the liquid in those glo-sticks & the child was eight, but it’s still a pretty panic-inducing thing. I’m glad your son is OK.

  3. Fortunately I haven’t had to make that call yet but I’m sure that day will come. Thanks for the reminder that I need to memorize that number!

  4. Noreen says:

    I had to call them in Oct. My daughter ate un-cooked pumpkin seeds. I had no idea if that was bad or not so I called. I was told that actually some people use them to treat worms. The only worry would be if the pumpkin was still stuck to it and it had spoiled. Luckily I had washed them really well so everything was fine.
    I have the number on my fridge with our address, #, cell #s and doctor info

  5. ReggieMann says:

    My sister caught my 2 year old niece eating Surf powder detergent on Saturday. Poison Control told her detergent is nasty and once kids get a taste of it, they don’t put any more in their mouth.

  6. Lori Z. says:

    What a rascal! I’m so glad he’s ok!

    My son likes to put things in his mouth. We had an abdominal x-ray at 20 months. The tech said it looked like the tip of a pen and was metallic, for two days we had to give him enemas. What was it? A mass of pomegranate seeds.

  7. Oh my goodness! I know what fear you must have felt, as I’ve had to call them twice – once for each child. I programmed the number into my cell phone in case I panic and can’t remember! Thank goodness your boy is ok.

  8. Badger Momma says:

    My oldest decided she’d get into the fridge and drink some of her amoxicillin. Not much thankfully. I think the poison control center people are used to all sorts of strange calls. 🙂

    Did you ask your son how it tasted? Bet he’ll spit it out next time if he thinks it’s supposed to be toothpaste and it’s not.

  9. Kayla says:

    Oh dear lord, that had to be a scary moment >.<
    Thank god for those people who are put here to help in these situations!

  10. Lauralee Hensley says:

    My niece and nephew once drank their mom’s perfume. Perfume can actually be bad if the alcohol content in it’s too high. It actually kinda burned the inside of their cheeks, and one of the children actually aspired a little into their lungs causing a mild pneumonia.
    Perfume should be kept out of the reach of kids, who would have thought they’d drink it.

  11. Lauralee Hensley says:

    I meant to type aspirated not aspired above.
    Hey, maybe I can’t type because I drank prefume and got a buzz off it.
    Nay, just kidding.

  12. The Gosfam says:

    I don’t know how I missed this post earlier. I am glad he is okay. My daughter got into nail polish remover and I was scared. I thought she drank most of the bottle, but she really had spilled it on the floor. Love poison control.

  13. Thank goodness for poison control! What would we do without them. I had to call once because one of my boys sprayed perfume in his eyes and drank some of it. The only worry was the alcohol content in the perfume and the burn in his eyes. He had actually spilled most of it on his shirt and did not drink much, but I did have to take him to have his eyes flushed out.
    It’s so much fun having boys, isn’t it???

  14. My daughter drank a bit of shampoo last week.
    No side affect at all, I thought at least she’d be passing bubbles…LOL
    Kids, what they won’t try!

    Glad to hear he’s OK!

  15. Wanda says:

    You poor girl, you must have been so scared! But remember, the reason there are poison control centers everywhere is that this sort of thing HAPPENS ALL THE TIME! It’s what kids do, just about all of ’em! And it’s why kids are born to younger women, your hearts are stronger and your legs can run faster to the phone! I’m very glad it turned out to be no biggie, and that the kiddie is fine. But how’s the Mom?

  16. I, too, am a big fan of the Poison Control hotline and have had to call them at least 4 times in our live… being due with ornery dude #3… ha ha… I’m sure I’ll tack on another call or two to their magic line! My son ate a plant leaf (had to see if it was poisonous), some medicine, a ball bearing … and I forget what else…. everytime it was just fine and they always called back the next day to make sure he was okay. I can’t thank them enough for the peace of mind they give us moms. 🙂 Glad everything is going to be a-okay!

  17. SheilaBee says:

    The only time I had to call poision control was when me almost 4 yr old daughter brushed her teeth with Preperation H.She sneaked in the bathroom while I was making dinner and grabbed it instead of the toothpaste. I freaked out.Now it is funny but I really did not think so at the time. She was fine just had a numb mouth for a feww hours. Its just part of motherhood.

  18. Mrika says:

    Well, my 5 year old son just sprayed some Men’s Cologne in his mouth, he was supposed to nap and he wanted to nap in my room for some reason, which is a first and i said it’s ok you can nap in my room this time, so i walked in there after 5 minutes to make sure he’s sleeping and sure enough, as i opened the door he ran to the bathroom saying “mommy, it burns, it’s burning my tongue” i freaked out of course, didn’t know what he put in his mouth then he showed me the bottle he sprayed, i made him drink a lot of water, a few cups, brushed his teeth to wash his mouth and made him pee twice hopefully it flushed out, then i got on the computer to search and see what do i need to do next, i found your story here and reminded me of the Poison Control number 🙂 i’m sooooooooo happy and Thank You, they said he should be fine, just make him eat something so his stomach doesn’t hurt and it’s not empty and drink a lot of water.
    My son sure gives me a lot of heart attack’s but he has never put anything in his mouth, it’s the first time i called Poison Control and what a peace of mind they give you :), soo glad they are there for us to help our children 🙂

    I hope your child is alright and every other child 🙂

  19. Tricia Murray says:

    I’m glad for your post! Our daughter just ate hydrocortisone cream…not that much, but I’m relieved to see she should be okay (and that she’s not the only one! 🙂 ). thanks!

  20. Mary says:

    Thanks for this post. My 5 year old just brought Hydrocortizone cream to me and asked if it was toothpaste! He had brushed his teeth with it and it “didn’t taste good”. Good to know that he only had maybe a pea size on the toothbrush and some was in his mouth but most was spit on his shirt. I showed him the tooth on the Crest and told him to look for the tooth before putting it on his toothbrush.

  21. mommalovesmee says:

    Even my 15 months old love playing with this tube but dont keep it where he can reach….

  22. Sandy7 says:

    Just called poison control myself about my 1 yr old getting the cap of the hydrocortisone cream in her mouth. They also said not to worry this is something our body makes and even if she did injest a moderate amout she would be ok.

  23. Kathleen says:

    I am not 100% sure but am suspecting my 7 yr old brushed her teeth w/hydrocrotizone cream since the cap was off next to the tube of toothpaste. After reading all the comments I am relieved she will live another day! I have since moved the cream and am waiting for her to come home from school to have a discussion on when to ask about weither or not something is safe to use.

  24. irasistible says:

    I had just dashed into the bathroom to get my 2 yr old son when i came back and found my 6 month old daughter with an open bottle of 2.5% hydrocortisone cream in her hand and i really freaked out! I opened her mouth and tasted it and it definitely was oily and tasted like the cream. thank god for your post, atleast im sure she didnt ingest an ounce. gosh, i almost had a haert attack!

  25. MAMA6BOYS says:

    Yeah….um….Poison Control is my best friend. I call them pretty regularly & they’re like, “Oh. Hi, Heather. What did your boys ingest THIS time?” OK. Not really. But close. Oh….HI! 😀 Nice to meet you. Super cute blog!!! I’m a new follower! I love meeting moms of boys!!! You are welcome stop by my blog & say hi! BTW……… boys made a “magic potion” involving desitin, toothpaste & shampoo. And drank it. They lived. 🙂

  26. Jen says:

    Thank you so much for yor post!!! I had put hydrocortizone cream on the bathroom counter after putting it on my oldest daughter. My youngest daughter (5 years old) later brushed her teeth in my bathroom. Just a few minutes ago, I walked into my bathroom and say the toothpaste next to the cortizone cream and freaked out. I ran into her room (after she has been asleep for hours)…did my best to wake her with both the toothpaste and cortizone creams in my hand and tried to get her to point to the once that she used…but she was too asleep. Thank you so much for your post….I can now sleep tonight and it taught me a HUGE lesson!

  27. Abiola, Nigeria says:

    Hello All,

    Google ‘led’ me here. Walked into the sitting room now to meet my 31mths old son with the tube of Candiderm cream (steroid+antibiotic+antifungal)…
    It’s 8pm here and I’m already panicking..asked him whether he put it in his mouth and he said yes..found some on his mouth and cloth.. emergency number to call as i am in Nigeria..

    • Angela says:

      31 month old? LOL. Wait till he turns 156 months old. Those are the worst years. But it all gets a little easier when they turn 216 year old and you get them off to college and have the house to yourself. Unless he’s like one of my uncles and never moves out and is still living with my 1080 month old grandmother! Crazy or what!

  28. I called Poison Control once when my son (he had just turned 3) ate an adult stool softener pill. The woman was trying to keep her giggles under wraps and was as cool as a cucumber. Those operators must get all sorts of wacky moms (like me) calling!

  29. Batman says:

    I once ate 3% Hydrocortisone cream. It was the smallest amount, just out of my fingernail. And to think I was scared 😉

  30. Sarah L says:

    I have a friend who works for poison control. She has lots of stories to tell (anonymously, of course – privacy is paramount).

  31. Gwen says:

    Mine grabbed my vagisil cream when I went to pee real quick. (1% hydrocortisone, ate like 1/8th of an oubce maybe) Called poison control right off the bat of course. Thank god for that service! He hasn’t even vomited or anything, he’s totally fine, but if I didn’t have them to tell me he was okay I probably would have called an ambulance over nothing!!! Being a mom is scary stuff!

    • Theodorsia Michael says:

      This just happened to me my toddler went in my bathroom and got my vagisil cream all over himself and as well in his mouth and the rug, he open the toilet door to show me what he did, I jumped with off the toilet without wiping, I was trembling, quickly clean him up brush his teeth and scrub his tongue, I went for the cream and read, “call poison control when a child swallowed.” I’m just standing trembling not knowing where to start from, thinking when I call poison control they’ll bill me, so I ran for phn and search the internet on home remedies when children swallow poison, and I can across this post, thank goodness I ran down stairs to get him a warm milk, he just drank it. I’m over here panicking while he’s still jumping all over the place looking to cause more problems. My goodness!! This site is so helpful. Incase of next time I will call poison control since I know their service is free. As I’m typing this he’s spilling the balance milk he didn’t drink on my carpet.

  32. Lindsay says:

    Oh my goodness, I am so glad I just read this! My daughter just did the same exact thing! Same cream too! I feel better now.

  33. Jen says:

    My son ate Premarin (estrogen cream) and poison control said he would be fine… Just tonight ate 1% hydrocortisone cream poison control said he would be fine,,, his two yr old twin sister ate a pack of extra gum out of my purse… Poison control said shed would be fine… This is all within one week… Lord help me… And thank goodness for poison control, especially with 2 1/2 yr old twins…. Aaaarrrghhh!!!

  34. Cheryl says:

    Thank you! I’m so glad you you have this site! It really helped!

  35. Angela says:

    My one year old just did this! Thanks for the website.

    • Heather says:

      Yes my 17month old just ate 1% hydrocortizone cream. Gave her a bath on the area where i get her dressed was the cream i applied and closed the lid i literally walked a straight line to grab her jammies and turned around to her with the cap open and in her mouth with cream so i quickly grabbed it away and took a baby wipe to scoop it off her tongue put her back in the tub with diaper on and all fast as i could to rinse her mouth out and rebrushed her teeth. My heart was about to fall out my chest. Still very worried even after reading so many mothers going through the same exact thing!

  36. Daniela says:

    My 20 month old just did this. I have poison ivy and my 3 year old can open any door/ child safety lock / window. We locks on our kid safety gates. Still can’t keep him out. He let his brother in. The 20 month old and gave him the tube of 1% cortizone cream. And my little one ate him. It’s a 1 ounce tube and not even half was gone. I also called poison control and they said he will be fine. Just an upset stomach. I called my hubby and yelled at him that we need better locks on everything. I don’t ow how to stop my 3 year old from being an escape artist.

  37. A mom of a 252 month old says:

    I’m the mom of a 252 month old, who is a math major at a major university. She just brushed her teeth with Preparation H, and I was worried, but thank goodness for you all! But I can’t stop laughing!!!! One time she and her friend mixed nail polish and chocolate and put it in a pot and stirred it. That was 17 years ago. She’s still alive.

  38. Jennifer says:

    Thank goodness for your site! Google just lead me here. Came up to bed and found ALL the hydrocortisone 2% squeezed out of the tube that I had in my makeup bag. I freaked! The culprit, my 4 year old son. I just woke him out of a dead sleep to see if he ate it or rubbed it all over himself. Finally woke him up long enough for him to tell me he squeezed the tube on the carpet in a long line and then he gave me the wad of toilet paper that he wiped it up with that was hidden under my dresser. This kid is why I have gray hair! I love poison control too. Had to call them when the same kid, at 18 months, got my mascara, opened the tube and I found him sucking on the wand! Called poison control, told them the brand and they said he would be fine but might have a tummy ache. Seriously, if I didn’t color my hair I would be 80% gray!!! 🙂

  39. Kristy says:

    Thanks! I just had an almost identical situation happen, with my son who will be two in October. I was applying it to his rash and he wanted to “help” me by squirting it onto my hands. I let him not even considering the fact that he would be way to quick to stick it in his mouth! He’s been past the put everything in his mouth phase but then again they make delicious things that come out of tubes so he probably thought it was candy! It was coated in his mouth, he was Greg out of the shower so I used the towel I had on hand and wiped it out of his mouth with that. Thanks for the peace of mind!

  40. Stacy Hallam says:

    I just had the same experience except I ate it snd freaked out. Not on purpose it was on my face and I licked some off. Woke up not feeling hot and panicked. So thank you I feel a bit netter

  41. Jessica Ski says:

    As I’m waiting on the Poison Hotline, this saved me a ton of anxiety waiting on hold! Thanks for the post!

  42. Mrs Brewtus says:

    Whew…..14 mo old girl just did the same thing! Thank you ladies!! The struggle is real!!!!

  43. Missfah99 says:

    So grateful to have found this post. My son ate a little Cortizone 10 tonight. He was extra fussy going to sleep, and that concerned me so much. I didn’t want to be dramatic and freak out over nothing, but I didn’t want to be neglectful if he needed medical attention. Now I feel much better and can finish my wine I forgot about. LOL


  44. Jessica says:

    Hi I just swallowed some zerobase emollient cream by accident. I’m worried as I got a little tight chefs after that and tummy ache but don’t know if it’s anxiety playing a part!

  45. Annette says:

    Thanks for the post, my daughter just ate some and was coughing and yucking !!

  46. Taryn Jennings says:

    Thank God for sites like this one! My 1 year old just scared me half to death! Her Dr prescribed hydrocortisone cream for mosquito bites and I was applying it to her for the first time after playing in her little pool outside and getting bit all over, as I opened the tube she squirmed like crazy squirting the cream all over my blanket, then as I’m searching for all the bites to apply all this spilled cream to, she is trying to wipe more off the blanket to taste it, she threw a fit when I stopped her, when she called down I pulled her up close to me to check her back for bites, when I was done I leaned back and she had the open tube in her mouth sucking away!! I started freaking out, calling for my roommate, grabbing the towel, prying her mouth open trying to wipe out whatever she had squeezed in there, or possibly induce vomiting, we frantically start searching the packaging for info on what to do, but it didn’t say ANYTHING!! Only thing it said was external use only and keep away from children, so I asked Google what to do, thinking this would give me the number to poison control quickly, as well as hopefully tell me what to expect, Google did not disappoint! First result on the list was poison control, which I was about to call, but scrolled down first and found numerous sites with people telling their stories, all with the same results, the more I read the more at ease I felt, not only was it not the life or death situation I feared, but the amount she might have ingested was not even remotely dangerous, and to top it off, I wasn’t alone, so many other parents had gone through exactly what I was going through, and had reacted the same way, and luckily for me, had shared their stories for scared mom’s like me to find in our time of need, Thank you all so much!! Reading these stories helped me and I’m sure so many others more than you could possibly imagine!! I know this is an old post, but I’m so grateful it is still here, I truly hope they don’t ever take it down!!

  47. Carrie Stone says:

    Thank you! My son just brushed his teeth with hydrocortisone cream as well – just a small bit. He is currently rinsing it out with a ton of water and enjoying the spitting process. I assumed he would be fine, but your blog has reassured me.

  48. Sarah says:

    When I was little, my first time brushing my teeth unsupervised, I accidentally used hydrocortisone cream as toothpaste. For some reason the odd taste wasn’t very off putting to me.

  49. Robert Hudson says:

    Thank goodness for all the wonderful mothers in the world. I enjoyed reading all these posts and could feel the love parents must have generation after generation. And for some of us it was not our child who had eaten cortisone but we the grownup who had brushed our teeth with it! I am your grandparent, specifically a 78 yo man, who nodded off on the “pot” to awaken with a terrible taste in my mouth. Apparently I had ingested a squeeze of the tube of cortisone I keep to hand for use as needed at that station. I googled to see if I really should call the PCC and got this delightful thread. It was almost worth the totally lousy taste! And I am sure I will survive although I do, of course, realize that if there are those who don’t, they would not likely be posting.

  50. Heather says:

    Yes my 17month old just ate 1% hydrocortizone cream. Gave her a bath on the area where i get her dressed was the cream i applied and closed the lid i literally walked a straight line to grab her jammies and turned around to her with the cap open and in her mouth with cream so i quickly grabbed it away and took a baby wipe to scoop it off her tongue put her back in the tub with diaper on and all fast as i could to rinse her mouth out and rebrushed her teeth. My heart was about to fall out my chest. Still very worried even after reading so many mothers going through the same exact thing!

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