Skin Home > Does Hydrogen Peroxide Damage the Liver?

People using hydrogen peroxide are unlikely to develop liver damage. However, although the liver is not specifically targeted by hydrogen peroxide, various tissues throughout the body can still be damaged when it is taken inappropriately. Inappropriate use can cause serious symptoms, such as stomach bleeding and severe burns of the throat, esophagus, mouth, or stomach.

Is There a Link Between Liver Damage and Hydrogen Peroxide Use?

Hydrogen peroxide is a common household product typically used for wound care. However, this substance is also becoming popular when used in unorthodox ways, such as by IV or taken by mouth, in some branches of alternative medicine.
 
Many people are justifiably concerned about the potential health risks of using hydrogen peroxide, especially in such unorthodox ways. In particular, people often want to know if hydrogen peroxide can damage the liver.
 

Hydrogen Peroxide and Hepatotoxicity

Substances that are likely to damage the liver are typically referred to as "hepatotoxic" substances. Hydrogen peroxide is not a particularly hepatotoxic product. Although it can be quite dangerous (especially if used inappropriately), the liver is not specifically targeted by this product.
 
Rather, serious side effects associated with inappropriate hydrogen peroxide use seem to be caused by a damaging effect on the tissues that come in direct contact with the substance or, in rare cases, by air bubbles in the bloodstream caused by the release of oxygen when hydrogen peroxide is broken down. Such side effects may include but are not limited to:
 
  • Severe burns of the mouth, throat, esophagus, and stomach
  • Stomach bleeding
  • Ulcerative colitis
  • Intestinal gangrene
  • Air embolism (a potentially life-threatening air bubble in the bloodstream)
  • Swelling of the brain
  • Stroke
  • Death.
     
(Click Hydrogen Peroxide Side Effects to learn more.)
 
There have been reports of air emboli (air bubbles) in the portal vein, the large vein through which blood from other digestive organs drains to the liver. At this time, it is unclear exactly how serious this problem may be, at least when it occurs due to hydrogen peroxide use. Portal vein emboli are usually quite serious, but mostly because they often happen as the result of other serious conditions.
 
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;
Last updated/reviewed:
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