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Alcohol-based hand sanitiser is unsafe to drink

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Alcohol-based hand sanitiser is unsafe to drink

By Sola Ogundipe

Hand sanitiser isn’t a drink, and people that drink it for its alcohol or in the hope that it would protect them against COVID-19 could end up with fatal consequences.

Persons can become acutely ill after drinking alcohol-based hand sanitiser even though it is great for cleaning hands against the coronavirus and most germs.

Alcohol-based hand sanitisers contain varying amounts and types of alcohol, often between 60 percent and 95 percent isopropyl alcohol, ethanol (ethyl alcohol) or n-propanol.

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Ingestion of such hand sanitiser can cause alcohol poisoning, diarrhea, blindness, memory loss, damage to internal organs and even death.

The vast majority of those exposed are children under 6 who drink it by accident. It is uncommon to deliberately ingest hand sanitiser and most exposures are accidental in children.

However, there have been instances in which parents are giving their children hand sanitiser to drink.

Hand sanitiser tastes bad and can result in a burning sensation, so most children will not swallow an amount large enough to produce symptoms.

However, there are children who will drink anything, no matter how bad it tastes – and in those cases, alcohol poisoning can result.

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While they are beneficial for killing germs on hands and like all potentially poisonous items, hand sanitisers should be stored out of the reach of children and should be used according to the label.  Monitor the use of hand sanitisers to ensure that the proper amount is used and that hands wet with sanitizer are not put in the mouth.

Avoid buying large containers. If hand sanitiser is swallowed (or splashed in eyes), contact a medical doctor. Apply a dime-sized amount to dry hands. Rub hands together until completely dry. Always monitor the use by children


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