What Happens If You Drink Nail Polish Remover?

What Happens If You Drink Nail Polish Remover? While it may seem unlikely, accidents can occur, and it’s essential to understand the potential consequences. Nail polish remover is a common household product used to remove nail polish, but its chemical composition can pose serious risks when ingested. The chemicals, such as acetone and ethyl acetate, that make nail polish remover effective at removing polish can have harmful effects on your body if consumed.

In this article, we will delve into what happens when you drink nail polish remover, exploring the immediate and long-term effects, the risks it poses to your health, and how to avoid such situations. Understanding the potential dangers of ingesting nail polish remover is vital for your safety and well-being.

First, Let’s Explore the Composition of Nail Polish Remover

Composition of Nail Polish Remover

Nail polish remover typically contains one or more of the following ingredients:

  1. Acetone: This is the most common active ingredient in nail polish removers. It is a powerful solvent that effectively breaks down and removes nail polish.
  2. Ethyl Acetate: Another common ingredient in nail polish removers, ethyl acetate is a less harsh alternative to acetone. It is often used in products labeled as “acetone-free.”
  3. Isopropyl Alcohol: This alcohol compound may be present in certain nail polish removers. It can help dissolve the polish and aid in the removal process.
  4. Fragrances and Additives: To mask the strong odor of the solvents, nail polish removers may contain fragrances or other additives.

What Happens If You Drink Nail Polish Remover?

Ingesting nail polish remover can lead to immediate effects on the body, with the severity and type of symptoms largely depending on the specific chemical composition of the product and the amount consumed. When it comes to acetone, the primary active ingredient in many nail polish removers, even small quantities can trigger a range of symptoms. These can include a headache, lethargy, lack of coordination, and an unusual sweet taste in the mouth. It’s crucial to note that if larger quantities are consumed or if the body’s natural detoxification processes are overwhelmed, severe acetone poisoning can occur. This could potentially lead to a state of deep stupor, coma, or in extreme cases, even death.

Some of the other common acetone poisoning symptoms include:

Nausea and Vomiting

The harsh chemicals present in nail polish remover can irritate the stomach lining when ingested. This irritation can result in feelings of nausea and potential vomiting. The body’s natural response to the ingestion of toxic substances is to expel them, which is why vomiting may occur. However, it is important to note that inducing vomiting should only be done under the guidance of a medical professional to avoid further complications.

Abdominal Pain

Ingesting nail polish remover can cause abdominal pain and discomfort. The chemical composition of nail polish remover, particularly acetone, can irritate the gastrointestinal tract. This irritation can lead to inflammation and result in abdominal pain. The severity of the pain may vary depending on the amount of nail polish remover ingested and the individual’s sensitivity.

Dizziness and Headache

Dizziness and Headache

The fumes released by nail polish remover contain volatile chemicals that can be toxic when inhaled or ingested. These chemicals can affect the central nervous system, leading to dizziness and headaches. Ingesting nail polish remover can result in the absorption of these toxic substances into the bloodstream, causing systemic effects. The dizziness and headaches experienced may range from mild to severe, depending on the individual and the amount ingested.

Breathing Difficulties

In severe cases, ingestion of nail polish remover can affect the respiratory system, causing difficulty in breathing. The toxic chemicals present in nail polish remover can irritate the respiratory tract, leading to inflammation and constriction of the airways. This can result in shortness of breath, wheezing, and a feeling of tightness in the chest. If breathing difficulties occur after ingesting nail polish remover, it is essential to seek immediate medical attention.

Skin Irritation

In some cases, accidental spillage or contact of nail polish remover with the skin during ingestion can cause skin irritation. The chemicals in nail polish remover can strip the natural oils from the skin, leading to dryness, redness, and even chemical burns. It is important to wash off any spilled nail polish remover from the skin immediately and seek medical advice if skin irritation persists or worsens.

Why People Drink Nail Polish Remover?

Some types of nail polish remover contain alcohol, which can make people feel intoxicated when ingested in large quantities. This fact has not escaped the notice of certain individuals, especially teens and young adults who are not of legal drinking age. Such individuals may turn to nail polish remover as a readily available, albeit extremely dangerous, alternative to conventional alcoholic beverages.

This practice is fraught with substantial risk due to the harmful chemicals found in nail polish remover. Even those variants that contain alcohol usually also feature other toxic substances, such as acetone and ethyl acetate, which can lead to severe health problems when ingested.

Interestingly, some believe that consuming apple cider vinegar can lead to the body producing acetone. Acetone is a type of ketone produced when the body breaks down fat for energy. This process becomes particularly prominent in individuals following a ketogenic diet, where the body relies on ketones and acetone rather than carbohydrates for energy.

However, there is no scientific evidence to suggest that apple cider vinegar stimulates the production of acetone in the body. Although acetone is safe in typical quantities that the body naturally produces, consuming additional amounts externally, such as through drinking nail polish remover, is not recommended. It is poisonous in large quantities and can lead to severe illness.

Health Risks Associated with Nail Polish Remover

Health Risks Associated with Nail Polish Remover

Circulatory System Effects

Ingesting nail polish remover can have significant impacts on the circulatory system. Acetone, being a toxic substance, can disrupt the normal functioning of blood vessels and the heart. Prolonged exposure to acetone or ingestion of large amounts can lead to low blood pressure, as mentioned earlier. This condition can strain the heart as it struggles to pump blood effectively throughout the body.

Additionally, acetone can affect the blood’s ability to carry oxygen, leading to tissue hypoxia. When tissues don’t receive an adequate oxygen supply, it can result in fatigue, weakness, and even organ damage. The circulatory system plays a vital role in maintaining overall health, and any disruption caused by nail polish remover ingestion can have serious consequences.

Addiction and Organ Damage

While nail polish remover is not typically consumed for recreational purposes, there have been cases of individuals abusing acetone as an inhalant to achieve a high. This dangerous practice can lead to addiction and severe health problems. Inhalation of acetone fumes can cause brain damage, as the chemical interferes with the normal functioning of the central nervous system.

In addition to the brain, acetone abuse can also have long-term effects on other organs in the body. The throat, liver, and kidneys are particularly susceptible to damage from prolonged exposure to acetone. These organs play essential roles in the body’s detoxification processes and overall well-being. Permanent damage to these organs can significantly impact one’s health and quality of life.

Treatment for Nail Polish Remover Ingestion

Nail Polish Remover Ingestion

If someone accidentally ingests nail polish remover, it is crucial to seek immediate medical attention. The following steps may be taken as part of the treatment:

  1. Contact Poison Control: Call your local poison control center or emergency services for guidance on what to do next. They can provide specific instructions based on the situation.
  2. Do Not Induce Vomiting: Unless instructed otherwise by a medical professional, do not induce vomiting. Vomiting can further damage the esophagus and increase the risk of aspiration.
  3. Medical Evaluation: The individual may be taken to the hospital for a thorough evaluation. The healthcare team will monitor vital signs, conduct blood tests, and assess organ function to determine the extent of the damage.
  4. Supportive Care: Treatment may involve providing supportive care to manage symptoms and prevent complications. This may include intravenous fluids, medication to alleviate pain or discomfort, and close monitoring of vital signs.

Prevention Tips

To prevent accidental ingestion of nail polish remover and promote safety, consider the following tips:

Store Properly

Keep nail polish remover and other similar products out of reach of children and pets. Store them in a locked cabinet or on a high shelf to prevent accidental access. Children are naturally curious, and the attractive packaging of nail polish removers may entice them. By securely storing these products, you can reduce the risk of accidental ingestion.

Read Labels and Instructions

Always read the labels and instructions on nail polish remover products before use. Pay attention to any warnings, precautions, or specific usage instructions provided by the manufacturer. Each product may have different compositions and usage guidelines, so familiarize yourself with the information to ensure safe handling and use.

Nail Polish Remover Prevention Tips

Use in a Well-Ventilated Area

When using nail polish remover, ensure proper ventilation in the area. Open windows or use a fan to improve air circulation and minimize exposure to the fumes. Proper ventilation helps reduce the inhalation of toxic vapors and improves the overall safety of using nail polish removers.

Seek Alternative Products

If you are concerned about the potential risks associated with nail polish removers, consider seeking alternative products for nail polish removal. Non-acetone removers are available and offer a less harsh alternative. These products are formulated with different chemicals that are less toxic and have fewer associated risks. Alternatively, you can explore natural methods for nail polish removal, such as using lemon juice or vinegar. These options provide a safer and chemical-free alternative.

Educate and Supervise

Educate household members, especially children, about the dangers of ingesting nail polish remover. Teach them that nail polish remover is not meant for consumption and should only be used externally for its intended purpose. Supervise children closely when using nail polish remover and provide clear instructions on safe usage and storage. By educating and supervising, you can minimize the risk of accidents and promote a safer environment.


What should I do if I accidentally drink nail polish remover?

If you accidentally drink nail polish remover, seek immediate medical attention.

Can acetone be used for anything else?

Acetone can be used for various purposes, including as a solvent and for cleaning purposes.

Is it safe to use nail polish remover on skin?

While nail polish remover is generally safe to use on skin to remove nail polish, prolonged or excessive use can cause dryness and irritation.


In conclusion, drinking nail polish remover can have serious and harmful effects on your health. The chemicals present in these products are not meant for ingestion and can lead to immediate discomfort, organ damage, and even addiction. To ensure your well-being, handle nail polish remover with caution, educate yourself about the risks, and seek professional nail care services like those offered at Villa Nail Salon. Prioritizing your safety is essential, so remember to avoid consuming nail polish remover and maintain a healthy lifestyle.

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