North Texas

Children May Be Drinking Hand Sanitizer for Alcoholic Effects: CDC

The CDC analyzed data from 2011 and 2014 and found more than 70,000 children younger than 12 years old were ingesting hand sanitizer and even getting it in their eyes.

According to the report, most of those exposures were due to kids drinking the gel.

Older children were more likely to report intentional ingestion, suggesting they might be deliberately misusing it for the alcoholic effects. The data also indicates that, among older children, exposures occur less frequently during the summer months.

Hand sanitizers are effective and inexpensive products that can reduce microorganisms on the skin. The alcohol is often combined with scents that might be appealing to young children.

But ingestion or improper use can be associated with serious health risks such as apnea, acidosis, and comas in young children who swallowed alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

Local doctors say there's many things parents can do to try and avoid the issue in their home.

"You certainly can, as a parent, have non ethanol based hand sanitizer so there's no concern about possible ingestion. Also, it's important to remember that just good hand washing is more effective than hand sanitizer," according to Dr. Damien Mitchell of Forest Lane Pediatrics.

The best ways to avoid the issue: 

  • If you have a sink nearby, just use that. It's more effective.
  • Consider purchasing small amounts of the hand sanitizer instead of larger jugs.
  • Make sure to keep those out of the reach of small children. The sanitizers can sometimes smell really good, and that might seem tasty to little ones.
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