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Beware of Alcohol Poisoning via Hand Sanitizers

Some brands of hand sanitizers, including gels and wipes, contain levels of alcohol that can potentially cause alcohol poisoning if ingested.

This warning is especially relevant for parents and teachers at day cares, preschools, and elementary schools, as young children who don't know better than to lick curious-smelling substances from their hands can experience alcohol poisoning from accidental ingestion of common hand sanitizers like Germ-X and Purell.

Common symptoms of alcohol poisoning include:

  • Dazed, glassy-eyed look

  • Wobbly gait

  • Mental confusion

  • Fussiness

  • Exhaustion

  • Weakness

Hand sanitizers that contain alcohol should never be accessible to children without supervision. And whenever possible, it's best to use plain soap and water to promote good hygiene rather than rely on gels and wipes that contain alcohol.

Many years ago, I worked at a multidisciplinary clinic where a practitioner of traditional Chinese medicine routinely recommended using rubbing alcohol as an agent to apply various herbs to the skin of patients. Unfortunately, it took a young child patient to suffer serious alcohol poisoning for that practitioner to understand the dangers of using any substance with alcohol around the mouth and other major pores.

Please share this warning on the potential dangers of using hand sanitizers and other substances that contain alcohol with family members, friends, and any teachers and day care staff members that you know. Thank you.


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Is it not the denaturing agent, and not the alcohol, that causes the problem? I can't imagine licking enough ethanol to cause drunkenness, much less poisoning.