CONCORD, N.H.  — Poison control centers across the United States, including the one that serves northern New England, are reporting a rise in cases of children swallowing laundry detergent packets.

The tiny, brightly colored packets are marketed as a way to get rid of the mess that comes with bulky bottles and boxes. But doctors say children can confuse the packets with candy.

The Northern New England Poison Control Center took three calls in March, eight in April and two this month involving children either trying to eat the packets or getting the detergent in their eyes. Dr. Karen Simone, the center’s director, says in the latter scenario, the most important thing for parents to do is to begin flushing the eye with water immediately rather than going to the doctor or hospital.