Crayons are considered nontoxic, but their ingestion may lead to intestinal obstruction or produce a laxative effect if consumed in large quantities. Crayons are primarily made of wax and added colors, but have a low level of toxicity, say experts at the Illinois Poison Center. Most children consume very small amounts; little pieces of crayons present a choking risk, but cause little bodily harm in small quantities.
Despite not causing serious harm upon ingestion, consuming crayons may have a laxative effect in children. Signs of crayon consumption are loose stools, say experts at the Illinois Poison Center. Parents may suspect wax crayon consumption when children experience diarrhea or vomiting. If those conditions are present, caregivers should contact their local emergency centers or call 911 for medical treatment.
Sometimes children show no visible signs of crayon intoxication. If that happens, parents should give the child water and watch for changing conditions. Children may also get crayons in their eyes, which may require medical evaluation.
Since crayons are not highly toxic, prognosis and recovery are favorable for wax poisoning. However, parents should call poison control centers for advice on proceeding with care, whether administered at home or in a clinical setting.
In addition to crayons, wax appears in other common household objects such as candles and canning wax.