If the Covid-19 pandemic has taught us anything, it is to develop better hand hygiene habits, which include regular hand washing and the use of hand sanitisers – especially for young children.
Washing hands with soap and clean water for at least 20 seconds is the best way for children to get rid of germs, but when water and soap are unavailable, we encourage them to use hand sanitisers containing at least 70% to 90% alcohol.
What do most hand sanitiser contain?
Many hand sanitisers on the market nowadays include alcohol or rubbing alcohol (ethyl alcohol, ethanol, isopropyl alcohol, or isopropanol), which can be dangerous to children if swallowed. Low blood sugar, tiredness, loss of balance, sleepiness, seizures, and coma are among the signs of alcohol poisoning, which can be fatal if left untreated.
There had been an upsurge in reports of inadvertent exposures in children, as families began purchasing more hand sanitisers during the pandemic. Many reports were of children under the age of five years, and in many cases, the sanitiser wound up in the children’s eyes. For example, in July of this year, Australian media disclosed that more than 7,000 cases of child poisoning from hand sanitisers had been documented. According to data released by a children’s hospital in Paris and the French Poison Control, researchers discovered that accidental eye injuries to children under the age of 18 years, increased significantly in a five-month period during 2020, compared to previous years.
However, statistics for other nations are not openly available, although this does not rule out the possibility that similar occurrences have occurred in countries such as the United Kingdom.
Can hand sanitisers be harmful to the eyes?
According to experts, eye injury from hand sanitiser exposure is a known problem these days, but this is a concern not only for children but also for health care workers and adults. This is because ethanol and isopropyl alcohol are toxic to delicate structures such as the eyes. As a result, sanitiser exposure “may result in blindness due to the formation of a corneal ulcer.” Children are definitely more exposed to eye damage as a result of their overuse of hand sanitisers.
Methanol ingestion in young children can be lethal, especially in toddlers who tend to put unsuitable things in their mouths or when significant volumes of it are accidentally squirted into their eyes.
What should be done when hand sanitiser comes in contact with children’s eyes?
Flush their eyes with clean water right away and seek medical assistance. An eye doctor or other medical professional can examine the damage and advise on the best course of action to avoid permanent damage to the eyes.
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