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Can You Get Ink Poisoning from a Pen?

Ink poisoning can occur when a large amount of ink is ingested and can cause symptoms such as vomiting and nausea.

This one may seem a little obvious, but we’ve come across a fair number of postings from people worried they might have gotten ink poisoning by writing on themselves or getting jabbed by a pen, and it made us curious.

InkAfter doing a little research, we are happy to report back that you’d have to swallow the contents of a half-dozen pens to make yourself feel sick, and it isn’t likely to be fatal. Maybe uncomfortable, but not deadly.

That means you’re relatively safe jotting down a phone number on your hand or accidentally sticking yourself with the pen in your pocket (although there’s the danger of infection from a poke, of course.)

In fact, it might be a little strong to even call it ink poisoning, since the combination of dyes/pigments and solvents that make up ink generally aren’t considered poisonous, according to the US National Institutes of Health.

And, “large amounts of writing ink must be consumed (more than an ounce) before treatment is needed,” the NIH website says.

Since the symptoms are limited to irritation of the eyes and staining of the skin or mucus membranes, the treatment basically consists of scrubbing away the ink. The NIH says you probably wouldn’t even need to go to a hospital.

The World Health Organization goes even further in dismissing the idea of ink poisoning. It lists pens under the heading “products that are usually not harmful,” in its “Management of Poisoning: A Handbook for Health Care Workers.”

Ink: ballpoint pens, felt-tip pens, and fountain pens contain so little ink that there is not enough to cause poisoning if it is sucked from a pen. Some inks may cause soreness in the mouth. Large amounts of ink swallowed from a bottle could be irritant, but serious poisoning has not been reported.

However, there’s a caveat to all this. Some inks contain tiny amounts of chemicals like phenol, ethyl glycol or xylene (usually used in permanent markers), all of which can be dangerous in large amounts, so you’d obviously want to avoid ingesting too much of them.

Basically, if you don’t drink a lot of ink, you’ll be just fine.

But in case you’re concerned about the toxicity of your pens and markers, you can check the Art & Creative Materials Institute. The organisation has a program that certifies items that “contain no materials in sufficient quantities to be toxic or injurious to humans or to cause acute or chronic health problems.”

Among the certified pens on the website: the Uni-ball Jetstream.

55 thoughts on “Can You Get Ink Poisoning from a Pen?”

  • Secret

    This really helped because after i drew a key on my hand my friend told me i might have ink poisoning. This really helped thanks :)

  • Starr

    Thanks for the facts because I heard some one said that drawing on Yourself can get ike poison. I draw on my self a lettle

  • Tracy

    Phew coz my 11yr old has just turned my right foot in2 a lizard & my left in2 chicken pox!!

  • Abs

    Ah thank you! I always panick about things like this my hand is a little swollen on the side and I was really paranoid about if it was ink poisoning my mum said its just where I must have knocked it but I was really scared! Ahaha I feel so relieved now :)

  • laura

    good coz my friend took out the ink from a pen and poured it over my hand

  • amy

    I don't know if I have ink poison because today a pen burst in my mouth at school and I swallowed the ink and now wen I swallow it really hurts can someone tell me if I have ink poison or not I am really scared ?

    • shiloh

      Well,when you swallow large amounts of ink it causes your throat to swell.It does not necessarily mean that you have ink poisoning but you should not be consuming ink at all.But just to be safe you should probably check it out with a doctor if it really hurts.

    • spencer

      i was siting in class and i ryed to suck out all the ink and kill myself but ehn i saw this i was worried that i would not die so is there any way i can kill myself

      • You shouldn’t do it
        You shouldn’t do it November 15, 2017 at 8:12 pm

        Please don’t do it, you are beautiful person. Thoughts are like clouds, they will linger but eventually they will float away, as will the thought of suicide will go away too. If you need help call 800-273-8255, its the National Suicide Hotline, and try reading The Memory of Light. It’s about a girl trying to continue living after a failed attempt at suicide. Please you are beautiful please don’t do this. Life gets better, I promise. Please don’t do this. Please.

  • alexx

    If I got a tattoo with pen ink, can I get ink posioning & die ?

  • topkek

    Can't believe people actually believe getting ink on you poisons you xD

  • susna antonopoulos
    susna antonopoulos January 23, 2014 at 5:25 am

    I swollled pan ink and It doesnt feel good and I got a chest burn and I feel werid is that normal !!!!!!!!!!!! I dont know but I says on the internet that swolling pen ink wont make you die or anything it says it might make you sick.

  • lewis butler

    hello this is amazing omgg

  • Sadie

    Thank you so much! I always draw on myself and I didn't think it was bad for me. Then I heard of ink poisoning and thought I would get it. But now I know I have nothing to worry about.

  • eva battle

    can you die from writing ink on yourself?

  • scott

    I swallowed a little bit of pen it will it effect me

  • Anonymous person
    Anonymous person April 2, 2014 at 12:40 am

    I was so worried I just have myself a tattoo with pen ink and my sister said I might get ink poisoning!!! I was scared beond belief!

  • killcasey

    Thanks I thought I was gonna die when casey walters stabbed me with a pen

  • Person

    Thank god I got so scared because I drew on myself and my arm started to burn and I felt a servere pinching type pain.i had heard that you could get ink poisoning and my friend had got ink poisoning fr drawing on her self so yah.... Thank yah though.

  • Person

    I was scared I got ink poisoning cuz my friend had got it and I drew on myself them felt a survere pain in my ars so..... Thanks.

  • Random42cc

    Good, cause I always doodle on my hand when I get bored and my friends are always yelling at me and saying I will get ink poisoning. Now I can prove them wrong ;)

  • LGH

    When I was doing science my pen was dry, so I put on my tongue so it works, and then my throat started to hurt a little, so thx a lot.

  • girlygirl

    thanks for telling me

  • Jasmine

    Haha, I just gave myself a stick'n'poke tattoo, and realized that I used the wrong ink o.o

    But then this post is just like "Bah, it'll be fine." Thanks for not telling me I'll die an immense and horrific death.

  • lilly rose

    so I licked a ink strip then I felt something rumbling in my tummy then iIpuked alot so thnx website is the best

  • malichi davis

    well that's a relief people said u would so i got scared thank's alot.

  • Michael Mabry

    Thanks Guys my parents said I would die if I wrote on myself.
    Thanks ALOT.

  • mason

    I recently drew a ink tattoo on my hand to my elbow and I have been experiencing a small amount of pain when I move my hand

  • annabel

    It's good u cant get ink poisoning from writing on yourself because I do it all the time and also a lot and my friend said that I could get ink poisoning from doing that. Now I can prove them wrong!

    • Harley

      I accidentally swallowed a little bit of ink from a pen, I am worried that I would get ink poison! If anyone can tell me if I am going to get it or not it be so helpful please

  • mia

    Phew today I drew a line on my hand with pen and my friend said I will get ink poising I got well scared thank you so Mich I'm still scared tho ..... I think I drew it on my vein is that still ok please reply

  • potatoe

    thanks i got ink on my tooth and though i would die cuz it was purple felt tip!thanks alot!

  • Embug

    I am just worried because I always draw on myself with markers like on my arms and I am just worried about the long term affects.

  • evanlyn

    thanks this really helped as I just drew a dragon and flower tattoo on my arm in total defiance of what ive been told at least now I kno I wont get ink poisoning

  • Livi

    i draw on my hands everyday and thought about it.
    luckily i prolly dont have it!

  • Zen

    I was stabbed very hard by a black pen and now my throat really this a conicdence?please reply asap i really need to know

    • TonyB

      Unless you got stabbed in the throat by the pen, I doubt the two are related. But if your throat is hurting that much, it would probably be a good idea to ring your physician.

  • WannabeShadowhunter
    WannabeShadowhunter October 1, 2015 at 9:03 pm

    Ok good I draw all over myself in class it's so boring!!! My friend told me about ink poisoning and i blew it off. But now i wanna be a shadowhunter for halloween and i want to draw all over myself because shadowhunters use runes so is that bad if you draw all over yourself?

  • Jed

    I was in class chewing on a pen and it exploded in my mouth it was a pilot g2 pen and I swallowed a little. I don't feel sick I'm just scared:(

  • Horse

    I did a stick and poke with one of these pens, will I get ink poisioning?

  • anonymous

    Thanks so much. I wasnt worried that i would get ink poisoning but one of my friends "angela" kept saying that writing on myself with pen will kill me. 너 는 안마젔으니깐 신관 꺼

  • anonymous

    Thanks so much! i drew all over my hand a few days ago and my coach said i would get ink poisoning!

  • Charlie

    I used calligraphy ink for a stick n poke tattoo, i dont know if it was non toxic or not. Its only small, so if it is toxic am i going to die?

  • Angie

    Phew i was trying to get the ink to go down because the pen wouldnt work so i inhaled and BAM a little ink went on my tounge and i freaked but i spit it out so im soo happy

  • Triniti

    I like to draw on my hands, and i was always worried if it was harmful, but this helped me with this reasoning, but also, if you think about it, if ink was deadly, then why would people allow you to get tattoos? because tattoos are the same thing with even MORE chemicals and ink, and it is there forever.

  • Lizzie

    Someone help!! My sister drew in my arm with a sharpie!! My middle finger down ( up to my arm crease ) is RED!! I don’t want ink poisoning!! Help me please! ??

  • emma

    i wrote 16 names on my arm with pen b/c it was a thing my friends and i did am i alright? will i get ink poisoning?

  • Jennifer Lopez

    I was playing with my pen suddenly it busted the ink splashed everywhere it even fell in my mouth it was alot t I didn't swallow it but it was all over my tongue and my spit got black and I accidently swallow a little of the spit but I was worried that I had Ink poisoning I don't know if I got ink poisoning

  • Cliveintheclub

    I wos writtin wiv me pen and I swolled it hole as a dare, lol.
    It’s Ben 8 weeks and I hav not seen it reapear if u no wot I meen lol.

    I was stabbed last nite in the club by a masked man, he told me his nam was Clive then just stabbed me like wot.? It hert.
    Is this reelated?
    me eyes r also terning black wear they shuld be white. But this mite be becus I worship santa. Santa who lives in hell

    I keep haffing a dreem when all the osheen is BLACK

    Pls help, me ma is called Whitney and we live in a blu howse

    Clive cannot get awey wiv this

    Bak to the pen , it had a perpul handel so if u c it pls don’t swollow it.

  • destiny brown

    I wright on my hand all the time and nothing had happened i can't help myself I just do it but ya know I haven't got sick or anything yet so I'm good

  • carisma jones

    This helped a whole lot! You see, when things happen to me that seems really dangerous, even if I don't know the results of what I did, I get really nervous and worried. A few minutes ago, I was chewing on the end of a PaperMate 1.0m pen, and I didn't realize that I wasn't chewing on the cap- I was chewing on the end. And I tasted a really gross taste in my mouth. So I looked at the end and I see ink at the end of it. So I rushed to my kitchen, grabbed a glass of water, and literally chugged it straight down my throat, and then threw it up to get the ink out of my system. I called a poison control center, and they said that I was fine, it was just a little ink, which can't harm me. I was so freaking relieved.

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