What is Lysol Allergy and Adverse Reaction ?

Lysol is a popular disinfectant cleaning product, but the active ingredient Phenol can act as either a toxin or an allergen for cats. Phenol is a naturally occurring chemical which can be found in small amounts in plants like thyme, clove, and oregano. It is also used in a number of cleaning products, including Lysol and Pinesol, and can be found in coal tar products. If your cat is showing signs of a reaction of any sort to Lysol, your veterinarian should be contacted to evaluate the type and severity of the reaction.

Cats have a very keen sense of smell. They are often more sensitive to odors and fragrances than other animal species. Additionally, some scents can cause an adverse reaction or an allergy when inhaled, consumed or contacted. Lysol is one such product that may cause problems to your feline if exposed to it.

Symptoms of Lysol Allergy and Adverse Reaction in Cats

Symptoms of an allergic reaction and a mild contact response to the toxin in the product are very similar, including: 

  • Bumps and scabs on the skin
  • Dandruff
  • Hair loss
  • Itchy skin
  • Overgrooming
  • Pulling out tufts of fur
  • Scabbing
  • Swollen skin

Toxic reactions can become amplified from there, attacking the nervous system and producing symptoms such as: 

  • Abdominal pain
  • Cardiac failure
  • Circulatory disruptions
  • Diarrhea
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Excessive panting and drooling
  • Paralysis
  • Renal failure
  • Respiratory failure
  • Seizures/twitching
  • Staggering
  • Sudden blindness
  • Vomiting
  • Weakness

Types

The ingredients in Lysol can affect cats negatively in multiple ways:

Allergic Reaction

Cats can develop allergies to any of the ingredients in Lysol, which can trigger allergy symptoms. This cleaning product is capable of produce reactions both due to topical contact or due to inhalation of the fumes or fine spray.  

Toxic Reaction (Consumed)

If this product is ingested, it can cause severe damage to the central nervous system as well as injuring the liver and kidneys. If your pet has consumed any amount of Lysol, or any other product containing Phenol, medical attention should be sought as soon as possible

Toxic Reaction (Topical)

When introduced topically, the main active chemical in Lysol can induce burns on the skin in solutions that are at concentrations of just one to five percent. At higher levels, these compounds can leach into the bloodstream and cause damage to the nervous system as well.

Causes of Lysol Allergy and Adverse Reaction in Cats

Skin allergies caused by contact with chemicals like phenol are a result of an overly aggressive response by a specialized type of immune cell called a mast cell to a protein present in the cleaner. Phenol produced either synthetic or naturally contains the proteins that can stimulate the mast cells into releasing the chemical known as histamine. The inflammatory reaction caused by histamine is what instigates the majority of the swelling and itching that is characteristic of an allergic response.

Phenol is also especially toxic to cats as their unique physiology makes their livers ill-equipped to clear it from their system. In addition to cleaners like Lysol, many essential oils such as thyme and tea-tree oils contain dangerous amounts of this chemical compound.

Diagnosis of Lysol Allergy and Adverse Reaction in Cats

The visit to the veterinarian will most likely start with a physical examination of the patient, including standard tests such as a complete blood count and a biochemical profile. These tests may reveal the presence of phenol in the bloodstream as well as the concentrations that are present, and if an allergy is involved the blood tests may also expose an overabundance of a type of white blood cells known as eosinophils. If phenol is suspected to play a part in the symptoms then mixing the animal’s urine with ferric chloride may indicate if the chemical is present by turning purple, although laboratory testing should be used to confirm the preliminary diagnosis.

Skin scrapings will typically be collected from any areas that are affected by skin damage, and these samples will be examined microscopically, utilizing a technique known as a cutaneous cytology. This is typically done in order to evaluate the possibility that other disorders, such as infections or infestations, may be the cause of the symptoms. If allergies are suspected as a cause, then intradermal testing may be recommended in an attempt to determine if an allergy exists to either the phenol or to one of the other ingredients in Lysol.

Treatment of Lysol Allergy and Adverse Reaction in Cats

The treatment of the disorder will depend on which type of reaction your pet is exhibiting. In the event of the recent ingestion of the chemical, you should visit the veterinarian right away, as neither gastric lavage nor emetics are generally recommended to clear the toxin from the digestive system; it is particularly important not to induce vomiting if phenol has been ingested as it may cause additional harm to the animal rather than helping. Activated charcoal is also commonly employed as an effective means to soak up any remaining toxins from the digestive system, and IV fluids will generally be provided. If the toxicity is caused by dermal contact with the phenol, then the chemicals should be fully flushed from the skin and the patient should be bathed in glycerol, followed by a more traditional bathing with a mild feline shampoo or with liquid dish soap. Medications to support the respiratory system may be recommended, as well as supportive drugs for the liver and kidneys. 

If the symptoms are being caused by an allergy, ceasing exposure to the allergen entirely will eliminate the symptoms to cease, although it may be challenging to remove phenol from the environment completely as it is used in a number of varied products. There are a number of antihistamines that are relatively effective for felines; both formulated specifically for cats and some are formulated for humans. You should never give your pet human medications without the advice and supervision of a veterinarian as even those that are safe to use may require species-specific adjustments to the dosage.

Salves and shampoos made with hydrocortisone may also help to relieve pain and discomfort of the skin although it is crucial that your pet be prevented from licking off these preparations. Although cats can develop side effects from the corticosteroids, it is much less common than it is for dogs. If neither antihistamines or hydrocortisone preparations are successful in reducing severe allergy-related symptoms and you are unable to eliminate the chemical from the cat’s environment then injected immunotherapy may be attempted to reduce or eliminate the symptoms.

Recovery of Lysol Allergy and Adverse Reaction in Cats

If you are concerned about your cat’s recovery once home from the hospital, contact the clinic for a re-evaluation. The veterinarian may recommend avoiding from now on the use of products containing phenol, such as Lysol, due to the threat of adverse reaction in your cat from the inhalation, consumption or allergic reaction to it. Additionally, continue the use of medication or ointments prescribed by the veterinarian until complete.