Alcohol-based hand sanitizer became an essential item during the epidemic. but as Sales jumped And with families stocked up, poison control centers began receiving more calls about young children who accidentally ingested it.
Even now, almost a year later Frenzy to stock up on sanitizer Started first, the hand sanitizer remains within easy reach in many homes, and calls at the country’s poison control centers are on pace to continue trending higher than before the epidemic.
According to data from the American Association of Poison Control Centers obtained by The New York Times, hand sanitizers among children under 6 last year had more than 20,000 exposures, a 40 percent increase from 2019.
Most of these exposures included children 2 and younger who used sanitizers. In many cases, no symptoms were recorded, meaning that the child may have had only a brief taste or lick, something that would not normally cause significant health effects, Dr. Justin Arnold said, Medical Director of Florida Poison Information Center Tampa. But in other cases, children experienced vomiting, cough and mouth irritation.
Even though most cases are mild, parents can avoid the stress of poison control or unnecessary travel to the emergency room by storing the sanitizer properly and supervising young children when they use it.
Exposure continues to accelerate in recent months. In January, for example, about 34 percent more hand sanitizer exposures were reported among children under 6 years of age.
Household laundry detergents such as packets of liquid laundry detergents, bleach, all-purpose cleaners, drain cleaners, and oven cleaners have also increased, accounting for 10 percent of children under 6 during the first few months of the epidemic. Increases. a report Released in August by the American Association of Poison Control Centers.
Experts said, but when it comes to handing over to the sanitizer, we regularly arrive at the position when we are out and blow mud in our hands. Especially because the hand sanitizer does not come with a child-resistant closure.
“People don’t recognize how toxic it is, if it has effects, what the effects are and what they need to do for safe storage,” said William Eggleston, Upstate New York Poison in Syracuse, New York A clinical toxicologist at the center. And an assistant professor at Binghamton University School of Pharmacy.
What if my child uses a hand sanitizer?
It depends how much is swallowed.
If children take an alcohol-based hand sanitizer in sufficient quantities, they can “become dangerously intoxicated,” said Dr. Diane Callelo, a pediatrician and executive and medical director of the New Jersey Poison Center.
Last spring, Drs. Kelo Co-Author A Center for Disease Control and Prevention Report About the rise of calls in poison centers that warned parents to keep hand hygiene, cleaners and disinfectants away from children. Report highlight court case A preschooler who was found to be irresponsible at his home near a 64-ounce bottle of ethanol-based hand sanitizer. His blood alcohol level was .27 percent, more than three times the federal legal limit at which an adult is not allowed to drive.
The hand sanitizer is 60 to 95 percent alcohol, as found in beer, wine, or most hard alcohols. A child weighing 20 pounds drank a tablespoon or two got drunk, Drs. Callelo said, and “a little drunk.”
“As one dose gets higher, they can get a lot of sleep and have trouble breathing, as we see in serious adult alcoholics,” she said.
Dr. Calleo said that children are likely to experience an alarming drop in blood sugar even after drinking small amounts of alcohol, causing them to feel lethargic after six to 10 hours.
Experts say that the sensitizer can also cause irritation to the throat or stomach, especially if they are prepared from isopropyl alcohol, an ingredient often found in rubbing alcohol.
How can I prevent an accidental ingestion?
Keep all hand sanitizers out of the reach of children – and out of sight, even if you have a small bottle that you keep in a handbag or backpack.
“It is important for parents to treat it like medicines in the home,” Dr. Eglston said.
You may be wondering if your family should avoid hand sanitizer altogether. The most effective way to get rid of germs is when washing your hands, CDC still recommends If soap and water are not readily available, use hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol to help prevent the spread of coronavirus.
If you have children under 6 years of age at home, supervise them while using them, Dr. Arnold said.
He said, “You don’t want the baby to pump itself up and start tasting it.”
Should I worry about contaminated sanitizers?
After the Food and Drug Administration, there were likely to be calls to American poison control centers in July and August. May warn of hand sanitizers in methanol, Which may be toxic if ingested. Hand sanitizer should never contain methanol.
“You can die from drinking methanol – and people do,” Dr. Callelo said.
The absorption of methanol in the skin, however, is “very low,” she said.
You can go to the FDA website Searching For a list of sanitizer products that should not be used (including many brands) Imported from Mexico which contains methanol). If you find that you have one of these products in your home, then FDA advises Put a hand sanitizer bottle in a hazardous waste container, if available, and get guidance from your local waste management center about the safest way to dispose of it. Do not flush or drain it or mix it with other liquids.
What should I do if my child tastes sanitizer or goes into their eyes?
If your child swallows a hand sanitizer, do not try to induce vomiting, experts said. Call poison control at 1-800-222-1222 so that you can get quick guidance on the best course of action.
If your child is unconscious, performing unusual tasks, is difficult to wake up, or has trouble breathing, call 911.
“Fortunately, Milder’s cases are much more common,” Dr. Callelo said. “More likely we are going to say, ‘Stay at home, look at that, I’ll call you back in an hour or half an hour.” We keep many people out of the hospital by providing them with real-time phone guidance. “
If your child gets a hand sanitizer in their eyes, you should also call poison control. In the United States, there were approximately 900 reports of ophthalmic risk in children under 6 in 2020, a 54 percent increase from 2019. recently JAMA Ophthalmology A French study showed that a review of data from the Poison Control Centers there found that eye-related hand sanitizer expo in children increased seven-fold in 2020 compared to 2019, and surgery to manage the chemical injuries resulting from it Need to increase.
“In an emergency, any clean liquid can be used to irrigate the eye after a chemical exposure,” said Dr., an ophthalmologist at New York University Grossman School of Medicine. Catherine Colby has written. A Comment Last month, JAMA appeared in Eye Disease. “Finally,” she said, “parents need to understand the importance of an eye exam if there is a risk in children,” because early diagnosis and treatment is important.