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Learn more about the extra precautionary measures we are taking amid COVID-19 concerns **Updated November 25, 2020

Is Drinking Hand Sanitizer Safe?

Hand sanitizer has become a popular way for people to keep their hands clean. Unfortunately, a growing number of people are asking “is drinking hand sanitizer safe?” because a surprising amount of people – particularly younger children – are ingesting it. Alcohol-based hand sanitizers appeal to people addicted to alcohol. If you or a loved one are struggling with alcoholism, reach out to an alcohol addiction treatment center in Hanover, PA.

Is Drinking Hand Sanitizer Safe? No.

The Poison Control Center states that “a lick” of hand sanitizer i.e., a small drop on the tongue is not dangerous. The chemicals in the sanitizer aren’t potent enough to cause poisoning at a low level. However, they also state drinking copious amounts of hand sanitizer can be very dangerous. This is especially true for young children and may trigger problems as severe as comas and seizures. Thankfully, reactions rarely reach this frightening level. However, young children – and even adults – may get very drunk drinking a single bottle of hand sanitizer. They may experience nausea, vomiting, confusion, fainting, and other symptoms of alcohol poisoning. These reactions occur because the alcohol used in hand sanitizer is different than standard types. This explains why the answer to the question “is drinking hand sanitizer safe?” is a strict “no.”

Ethyl Alcohol is Different Than Other Types

Hand sanitizer uses an alcohol type known as ethyl alcohol, which is more potent than the ethanol used to produce alcoholic drinks. This potency is necessary as a way of increasing the sanitizing power of alcohol-based products. However, this higher strength can cause a variety of problems when ingested, as more than a few mouthfuls may make a person very drunk or even trigger poisoning symptoms. According to the CDC, poison control centers across the nation received 85,000 calls about hand sanitizer exposure in children over four years. That’s over 20,000 calls every year or 54 calls every day. The danger level varied by case, with some children just having a sick stomach while others fell into comas. Some people who drink sanitizer, however, many people dealing with signs of severe alcoholism who cannot find another source of liquor. These individuals may reach for hand sanitizer because it is easier to find or less expensive. And some children may develop drinking problems after exposing themselves using hand sanitizer. As a result, parents wondering “is drinking hand sanitizer safe?” need to know how to keep this liquid out of their child’s mouth.

How to Avoid This Problem

The best way to avoid this problem is to talk to children honestly if they ask their parents, “is hand sanitizer safe to drink?” Let them know what can happen if they try to drink this item. And educate them on the proper ways to use hand sanitizer. The CDC states that sanitizer should be used in limited situations, such as when visiting a sick person at a hospital or if soap and water are not available. They emphasize that hand sanitizer should not be used as a complete replacement for soap and water. Instead, people should always use soap and water for a majority of their hand-cleaning needs. Parents concerned about very young children drinking hand sanitizer should place it in a hard-to-reach area or a locked drawer. And parents of teens abusing this substance may want to contact us to get professional rehabilitation help. Evidence-based addiction therapies can help teens to understand the causes of substance abuse so they can learn strategies to manage cravings and relapse.

We Can Help You

If you find that someone you love is addicted to or abusing hand sanitizer or you need more information to answer the question of “is hand sanitizer safe to drink?” please contact us at The Ranch PA. Call at 717.969.9126 to learn more about this problem, as well as our treatment options like medical detox, dual-diagnosis, pain management, psychodrama, EMDR, and motivational interviewing. Our center is on 15 acres of beautiful Pennsylvania hills, giving you a relaxing place to recover.

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