hand sanitizer

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CDC Warns Against Drinking Hand Sanitizer

Typical hand sanitizers contain between 60 and 95 percent ethanol or isopropyl alcohol by volume
hand sanitizer

Elena Elisseeva / Shutterstock

The report recommends hand washing with soap as a method for hand hygiene as opposed to using hand sanitizer.

Hand sanitizer is intended to kill germs, not get you drunk. Unfortunately, that hasn’t stopped people from trying. Last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a report that revealed over 70,000 children have ingested hand sanitizer between 2011 and 2014; however, a majority of the incidents were most likely unintentional, with around 90 percent of the incidents involving children under the age of five.

In 2015, Nhaijah Russell, 6, swallowed between three or four squirts of strawberry-scented hand sanitizer because she thought “it tasted good,” CNN reported.

When Russell arrived at the hospital, her blood-alcohol content was .179, which is twice the legal amount for an adult.

Older children (ages 6 to 12) were among those reported to have intentionally ingested hand sanitizer in hopes of getting a buzz.

The report states that there can be serious consequences to consuming hand sanitizer, such as apnea, acidosis, and comas. Common signs and symptoms of ingesting hand sanitizer include nausea, vomiting, respiratory depression, and drowsiness (similar to those of alcohol toxicity).


According to the report, raising awareness of the dangers may help encourage people to use hand sanitizer properly — and, for children, only under proper adult supervision.