Prior to Miss Moo’s birth, I thoroughly stocked our then town house with hand sanitizer. She was born during the H1N1 flu season and the hospital attached to our birth center had managed to terrify us about that strain of flu beyond belief. As the flu season carried on and no one we knew got sick, I began to relax about the plastic bottles stationed around the house and pondered exactly what slathering my hands with their contents was doing to us.
So, What’s In The Stuff Anyway?
Most hand sanitizers are essentially hand soap diluted in a large amount of alcohol – somewhere between 60 and 90 percent depending on the brand and size of the bottle. An alcohol content that large can lead to serious health hazards, particularly for children; levels that high can easily cause alcohol poisoning. Small children are at greater risk due to their size and propensity to place toys and their hands in their mouths.
Having the bottles accessible to children also pose threats. Many are brightly colored and scented to please the user and in turn, interested little hands grab them to use in play. Using hand sanitizers frequently with children may mean they have no fear of it as a chemical and feel they can responsibly use it in correct amounts. Amounts over the size of a pea could lead to alcohol poisoning in young children. Symptoms of alcohol poisoning can include nausea, dizziness, and headaches. Alcohol poisoning is a serious condition that must be treated to immediately to avoid long term health effects.