Then Dangers of Using Alcohol Hand Sanitisers with Children

Hubby recently told me about hearing something about the danger of using alcohol hand sanitisers on children.  He had heard it on the radio and it had something to do with Myth Busters so he reckoned there was truth to the statement.

Since we’ve been starting to use hand sanitisers on Gavin as a means of disinfecting his hands while we are out, I thought I had better take a closer look at this subject.

Apparently, it is true…  Alcohol-based hand sanitisers, if not used properly, can be a hazard to young children.

We all know that children are by nature curious.  They commonly use all five senses to take in information about the world around them so that they may better learn about it.  That also means they end up putting a lot of things we would rather not know about into their mouths – including sweet smelling hand sanitisers, if we’re not looking.

Why are hand sanitisers so dangerous to children?  Because of their small stature and the high concentration of alcohol within hand sanitisers required to make it effective.  Hand sanitisers contain anywhere between 60-70% ethyl alcohol.  In other words, ethanol, the same stuff we consume which makes us high if taken in sufficient quantities.  One little 2-ounce bottle of hand sanitiser is equivalent to about 4 shots of vodka.

A small child licking a dollop of hand sanitiser would be the equivalent of giving that child a sip of hard liquor.  And if the child happens to gain access to the whole bottle…?  Ordinarily, as parents we keep most poisons under lock and key or way out of reach of our children.  Yet, here is a product that is dangerous which we keep within ready access to use on our children.

No one denies that hand sanitisers have their uses.  In this day and age of H1N1, hand sanitisers also provide a viable alternative to hand washing for reducing the risks of picking up or transmitting disease.  So should we use hand sanitisers with children or ban them completely?

Firstly, I think we should assess the real risks that hand sanitisers pose to children. Are the dangers of hand sanitisers to children really that bad?  It appears the jury is still out and even the healthcare professionals are undecided at present.

What can we do in the interim when it comes to using hand sanitisers in children?

  • If you can, choose an alcohol-free hand sanitiser.  I’ve tried searching online for some brands of alcohol-free hand sanitisers and here are a few that I have discovered (although I don’t know whether they are available locally) – Soapopular, Oxi Brands, Pro-Tex.  If you know of any more, please drop me a comment below.
  • If you must use an alcohol-based hand sanitiser, make sure to use the appropriate amount for your child – no more.
  • Always supervise your child and make sure the hand sanitiser is rubbed into the hands until they are completely dry.
  • Keep all bottles of hand sanitisers out of reach of children to prevent accidental ingestion.

Published by Shen-Li

SHEN-LI LEE is the author of “Brainchild: Secrets to Unlocking Your Child’s Potential”. She is also the founder of Figur8.net (a website on parenting, education, child development) and RightBrainChild.com (a website on Right Brain Education, cognitive development, and maximising potentials). In her spare time, she blogs on Forty, Fit & Fed, and Back to Basics.

5 thoughts on “Then Dangers of Using Alcohol Hand Sanitisers with Children

  1. Soapopular is a Canadian product which is also available in the US. It has also been recently launched in the UK and can be purchased through various web-sites. It is 100% alcohol free and kills 99% of germs in 10 – 15 seconds. It is has also been tested and found to be effective against the H1N1 virus.

    The website address is http://www.soapopular.co.uk where you can read al about it

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  2. Roz – unfortunately, soapopular is not available here, but perhaps we can buy it online.

    Mephala – thankfully Gavin isn’t really into licking his hands. In fact, he’s always been rather reluctant about putting things into his mouth – which has been a blessing and a curse.

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