FDA warns against hand sanitizers containing methanol: What you should know
Hand sanitizer has played a prominent role in everyday life since the start of the pandemic. But with the Food and Drug Administration issuing warnings about some sanitizers, it's best to know what you're using.
Some hand sanitizer being imported into the U.S. could be dangerous. The FDA issued another warning this week about sanitizers found to contain methanol or wood alcohol, which can be toxic when absorbed through the skin.
"One of the main things we always get concerned with, when patients have methanol intoxication is what we call it is basically blindness," says Dr. Deena Adimoolam, of the Mount Sinai Health System. "So that's a medical emergency. Oftentimes, the patients need to be hospitalized and ICU setting and they need to undergo chemo dialysis."
In March, a 10-year-old was burned on his arms after buying home-brewed sanitizer at a convenience store. Police say the store owner had made it using cleaning products.
Experts say washing with soap and water for 20 seconds is better than sanitizer, when possible.
But when you can't wash your hands and need to use hand sanitizer, the FDA says to make sure the sanitizer contains at least 70 percent alcohol. Any less won't kill the coronavirus. Don't trust hand sanitizers that claim to be FDA-approved - the FDA doesn't approve hand sanitizer. And don't buy sanitizer labeled as containing methanol. You want ones with ethanol, also known as ethyl alcohol or isopropyl alcohol. Not all sanitizers are properly labeled, so if you buy an unknown brand it's best to check it against the FDA's recall list.
The FDA also says avoid hand sanitizers that are marketed with candy scents following reports of small children mistaking them for actual candy and putting the hand sanitizer in their mouths.