California Woman Dies of Lead Poisoning After Using Hemorrhoid Ointment

Health officials are warning the public of a Vietnamese hemorrhoid ointment that contains a “highly dangerous amount” of lead

<p>California Department of Health</p> Vietnam Hemorrhoid Cream

California Department of Health

Vietnam Hemorrhoid Cream

Health officials are sending out a warning after a woman died from using hemorrhoid ointment that contained a “highly dangerous amount” of lead.

The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) announced that a Sacramento woman purchased a hemorrhoid ointment from Vietnam, called Cao Bôi Trĩ Cây Thầu Dầu​​ (Castor Oil Hemorrhoid Extract), through a Facebook ad. A relative then shipped the product to her from Vietnam.

The woman later died of severe lead poisoning. After testing the ointment, the CDPH found that the product contained 4% lead, a “highly dangerous amount.”

According to California's Calaveras County Public Health, the ointment has been marketed primarily through Vietnamese Facebook groups as a “miracle” treatment for hemorrhoids with suggested intra-rectal application.

Related: Consumer Reports Urges USDA to Remove Lunchables from National School Lunch Program Due to High Levels of Lead, Sodium

Even small amounts of lead, which can be absorbed through the skin, can cause serious health problems. Symptoms of lead poisoning can vary, causing mild to severe symptoms including fatigue, muscle or joint pain, nausea, headaches, severe stomach cramping, seizures, coma and death.

Anyone who has purchased the ointment is advised to stop using it immediately, see their healthcare provider and get their blood tested for lead. Additionally, the CDPH urges all household members to get their blood tested as they also could have come in contact with the ointment.

The Orange County Health Care Agency also sent out an alert about the product. Both agencies state that anyone who has the Vietnamese hemorrhoid ointment should put the jar in a sealed plastic bag and contact them.

Never miss a story — sign up for PEOPLE's free daily newsletter to stay up-to-date on the best of what PEOPLE has to offer, from celebrity news to compelling human interest stories.

Health officials also note that it is unclear if the ointment can be purchased directly in the United States. According to the FDA, most intentional uses of lead in products and processes are banned in the United States.

Lead exposure can affect all ages, but it can affect children more because it can harm their health and development, specifically the brain and nervous system.

"Neurological effects from high levels of lead exposure during early childhood include learning disabilities, behavior difficulties, and lowered IQ," the agency states. "Because lead can accumulate in the body, even low-level chronic exposure can be hazardous over time. For adults, chronic lead exposure is associated with kidney dysfunction, hypertension, and neurocognitive effects."

For more People news, make sure to sign up for our newsletter!

Read the original article on People.