What is it?
First Aid

Woman holds cotton ball with nail polish remover

What is acetone?

Acetone is a clear, flammable chemical most commonly found in nail polish remover. The label on a product can tell you if it contains acetone.

Acetone is safe to use when you follow the directions on the product label, but it can be harmful if you swallow it or get it in your eyes.

Some people breathe in the fumes from acetone on purpose to get high, which can be dangerous—see inhalant abuse.

What happens if you swallow nail polish remover?

If you swallow a small amount of nail polish remover or another acetone product, you may get an upset stomach.

If you swallow more than a mouthful or if you breathe in a lot of acetone, you may:

  • Get a headache
  • Feel light headed or dizzy 
  • Feel sick to your stomach or throw up
  • Feel like you drank too much alcohol
  • Have trouble breathing
  • Have a fast heartbeat
  • Pass out

What happens if you get nail polish remover in your eyes?

If you get nail polish remover or another acetone product in your eyes, your eyes may water, turn red and burn.

What should you do about acetone poisoning?

If someone has used acetone in a way that could be harmful, follow these first-aid steps and call the poison center at 1-800-222-1222, chat online or text POISON to 85511.

If the person:

  • Got acetone in their mouth: Rinse out their mouth with some water.
  • Got acetone in the eye: Rinse the eye with warm water for 15 minutes. The poison center can tell you how to flush in the right way.
  • Breathed in acetone fumes: Get them to fresh air.
If someone has passed out or is not breathing, call 911 right away.

How can you prevent acetone poisoning?

To help prevent poisonings among young children and pets, keep nail polish remover and other acetone products in their original containers, and store them up high, out of reach.

Also see our recommendations for preventing inhalant abuse.

Last Updated: Thursday February 18th 2016