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The Case of the Tube Switcheroo

Posted: January 21st, 2014 | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Here at the IPC we get a lot of interesting calls, as you might imagine.  We get gross calls, calls about dares, calls about kids, calls about really toxic stuff, and calls about less toxic stuff.   It is all just another day at the IPC for our experts, who manage over 80,000 poisoning cases each year.  There are lessons to be learned in all of these cases and we’d like to share some with you throughout the next couple of months.

Lesson number one comes from cases like these:

  • A man calls to ask what to do for his wife, because they used toothpaste instead of personal lubricant.
  • A woman calls asking what to do after she accidentally applied Capsaicin cream instead of hemorrhoid cream.  Note: capsaicin is the ‘hot’ part of hot peppers like habaneros.

Both of these cases (which resulted in painful nether-regions, ouch!) occurred because someone grabbed a tube out of the medicine cabinet and used it without looking at the tube closely.

Just look how similar toothpaste and KY jelly tubes look:



And how similar Preparation H and Capsaicin creams look:

capsaicinprep h tube

Both of the people in the examples above did just fine (after some temporary discomfort).

Lesson 1:  Look and read the tube carefully before you apply–You can avoid the inadvertent tube switcheroo by turning the bathroom light on before you reach into the medicine cabinet and always read the tube before you apply the contents anywhere on your body.  But if you do accidentally brush your teeth with Neosporin, the IPC is always here to help 24/7 at 1-800-222-1222—the call is free, confidential and judgment-free.




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One Comment on “The Case of the Tube Switcheroo”

  1. 1 Jim O'Donnell said at 2:59 pm on March 19th, 2014:

    Excellent communication!

    Rush Department of Pharmacology

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