Hailed as a simple alternative to hand washing, hand sanitizers are a common item found in most homes and workplaces. It’s portable, quick, and convenient for people who are on the go and don’t have easy access to a sink or soap. These features are what kept hand sanitizer sold out all over the country during the early days of COVID-19. But before you reach for your bottle, it’s important to understand the dangers that can come with relying on it. Learn more about the potential dangers that are associated with the use of hand sanitizer.
Chemical burn injuries
When it comes to chemical creations, it should be left to the professionals. DIY mixtures of hand sanitizer have been reported to have caused chemical burns in unsuspecting users. In March 2020, a 7-Eleven owner was arrested for selling homemade hand sanitizer that caused burns to 4 children. Some ingredients don’t mix well and may even cause severe skin reactions and burns. According to a Seattle personal injury lawyer who specializes in burn injuries, “Burns are painful and damaging injuries that can greatly diminish the victim’s quality of life.”
Potentially toxic ingredients
Is your hand sanitizer scented? Chances are there are several toxic chemicals present. In most cases, companies aren’t required to release the ingredients that make-up their scents and can be made from a mix of chemicals. The majority of synthetic fragrances are made up of phthalates and parabens, which can disrupt the endocrine system.
Triclosan, commonly found in hand sanitizer, can hurt instead of help in the long run. This ingredient can make some bacteria resistant to antibiotics over time. By consistently choosing hand sanitizer over washing hands, good bacteria is destroyed and can make the user up to 6 times more likely to be at risk for contracting different types of viruses, including norovirus.
The active ingredients that make hand sanitizer effective are ethyl alcohol, isopropyl alcohol, or a combination of both with a concentration between 60% to 95%. Whether it’s ingested accidentally or intentionally, drinking a few squirts of hand sanitizer is almost equal to downing a couple shots of hard liquor. In 2012, there were several cases of teenagers being hospitalized with alcohol poisoning after drinking hand sanitizer.
Disinfecting commonly used surfaces, proper handwashing and mask use are critical components of containing the spread of COVID-19. In cases where there isn’t a sink or hand soap readily available, a small amount of professionally made hand sanitizer is a good alternative if you use it with caution and in moderation.