Between 2019 and 2020, the number of calls to U.S. poison centers in the case of alcohol sanitizer poisoning grew by nearly 40% according to the CDC. With this in mind, parents have been scrambling to understand sanitizer ingredients, discern which are toxic, and proceed with cautious purchases so that their children don’t suffer accidental harm.
Of course, the first step in preventing germs from spreading is to wash your hands with warm water and soap for around half a minute. Though when you’re on the go, such as picking your little one up from school or daycare, sanitizer is probably your next go-to option for quick disinfecting.
Here, we’ll talk about what makes sanitizers unsafe, what to check labels for, how to throw out unsafe products, and what products could be best for your child.
Dangers & Effects of Unsafe Sanitizers
The fatality that many hand sanitizers pose to children in the form of high alcohol content is a danger that can be easily avoided with a bit of prior knowledge. The side effects can range and the toxic ingredients vary, but some signs of alcohol poisoning in your child are drowsiness, drops in blood sugar, and in worse cases – seizures, coma, and even death.
There are a few main elemental drivers to these reactions, such as ethanol, ethyl alcohol, or isopropyl alcohol. If a child rubs this around their hands and decides to have a taste, these ingredients can cause a scale of harmful effects. Lesser-known alcohol, methanol, has found its way into poisoning the bodies of both parents and their children. Also called wood alcohol, this substance is poisonous if ingested or heavily applied to the skin, with similarly dangerous side effects as other alcohols: nausea, extreme headaches, blindness, damage to the nervous system, and death.
For news and updates on sanitizers that are unsafe for children, check this FDA webpage: www.fda.gov/handsanitizerlist.
Label-Checking & Disposing of Unsafe Sanitizers
One of the most prominent issues with children ingesting hand sanitizer is their assumption that it tastes good, according to the smell. To avoid this, purchasing safe sanitizer with a bitter taste to discourage further consumption is a smart move.
There’s a way to tell which sanitizers have taken this into account, too. When buying hand sanitizer that your child can safely use, it’s important to scrutinize the label for a certain word: “denatured.” This word implies added substances to make the taste less than pleasurable, which will keep your children from continuously tasting their fingers after use.
Safe Sanitizers to Consider
Firstly out of the three top picks is the Baby Bum Hand Sanitizer by Sun Bum, which makes up for its sweet coconut smell with 100% plant-based ingredients. Rung true by its name, this sanitizer was made specifically with children and infants in mind.
Secondly, the Babyganics Foaming Hand Sanitizer checks all the boxes by being alcohol-free, flaunting a plant-based composition, and still eliminating 99.9% of germs and bacteria. However, the alcohol-free nature of this product means that it’s not designed to combat viruses such as COVID-19, but is more so meant for child hygiene.
Lastly, Pipette hand Sanitizer gel is completely kid-safe with non-toxic ingredients while still protecting against germs. Its clean makeup gives off practically no scent, and it is allergen-free to consider season-sensitive children. Out of these three, Pipette reigns superior with the highest rating from the Environmental Working Group.