Are you packing? Becky Williams, RN

Updated: Jul 15, 2020

Are you packing?? I hope so.….that is, with hand sanitizer! It has become essential for this time…but not all hand sanitizers are created equal. The CDC and FDA (Food and Drug Administration) issued warnings about hand sanitizers made with methanol (wood alcohol) and the problems that these are causing…including blindness and death. Methanol can be absorbed through the skin, and is especially toxic when drunk. Children are especially vulnerable.

Here is information from the FDA about these hand sanitizers:

“Consumers who have been exposed to hand sanitizer containing methanol and are experiencing symptoms should seek immediate treatment for potential reversal of toxic effects of methanol poisoning. Substantial methanol exposure can result in nausea, vomiting, headache, blurred vision, permanent blindness, seizures, coma, permanent damage to the nervous system or death. Although all persons using these products on their hands are at risk for methanol poisoning, young children who accidentally ingest these products and adolescents and adults who drink these products as an alcohol (ethanol) substitute, are most at risk.

FDA reminds consumers to wash their hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after coughing, sneezing, or blowing one’s nose. If soap and water are not readily available, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend consumers use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent ethanol (also referred to as ethyl alcohol).

FDA remains vigilant and will continue to take action when quality issues arise with hand sanitizers. The agency is especially concerned with:

●The dangers of drinking any hand sanitizer under any conditions. While hand sanitizers with possible methanol contamination are more life-threatening than those that are not contaminated, FDA urges consumers not to drink any of these products.

●Certain hand sanitizers that may not contain a sufficient amount of ethyl alcohol or isopropyl alcohol.

●Hand sanitizers that are sold or offered for sale with false and misleading, unproven claims that they can prevent the spread of viruses such as COVID-19, including claims that they can provide prolonged protection (e.g., for up to 24-hours).

●Products that are fraudulently marketed as “FDA-approved” since there are no hand sanitizers approved by FDA.

●Products packaged to appear as drinks, candy or liquor bottles, as well as products marketed as drinks or cocktails because their appearance could result in accidental ingestion or encourage ingestion. Children are particularly at risk with these products since ingesting only a small amount of hand sanitizer may be lethal in a young child.”

How do I know if the hand sanitizer I have has methanol? Below is the link to the FDA website that has the most current information. If you do have one of these products, the FDA recommends disposing them in a hazardous waste container, and not to pour or flush them down the drain. Please check the website for updates, as these happen almost daily!

Do stay safe and healthy, my friends, and continue packing!