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Is Ink Posioning Possible?

Published: December 01, 2015
Dear TeenHealthFX,

Is there such thing as ink poisoning? I've heard so many adults say you could get ink poisoning from drawing on your skin in pen.

Signed: Is Ink Poisoning Possible

Dear Is Ink Poisoning Possible,

There is such a thing as ink poisoning but it doesn’t occur from drawing on your skin. This is one of those stories that you can chalk up to an urban legend. Common ink pens are almost entirely non-toxic. The basic components of pen ink are solvents, dyes, pigments and water. More than 1 oz. of the fluid would have to be ingested orally in order to significantly affect or poison a person. However, printer cartridge ink contains the slightly toxic pigment component P-Anisidine.


The most common problem related to ink is eye irritation and the staining of skin and mucous membranes. If ink gets into your eyes it can cause a burning sensation or irritation. The best treatment for ink in the eyes is to rinse the eyes thoroughly with cool water. Use a generous amount of water and continually rinse your eyes or skin until the ink is rinsed away and you no longer feel discomfort. The ink may temporarily stain the whites of your eyes, skin or mucous membranes (inside your nose or mouth). It is unlikely for ink in the eyes to cause long-term or permanent symptoms complications. See a doctor if you have blurred vision or if irritation persists after you rinsing.

If any of our readers ever suspect that they or someone else might be experiencing ink poisoning you should you should call your local emergency number (such as 911) or the National Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222. Before calling try to gather the following information:


·         Patient's age, weight, and condition

·         Name of the product (ingredients and strengths, if known)

·         Time it was swallowed

·         Amount swallowed


Do NOT make a person throw up unless told to do so by Poison Control or a health care professional.





Signed: TeenHealthFX