The sales of hand sanitizers and similar antiseptic products have increased significantly over the past few years, probably because of swine and avian flu epidemics. These products are certainly very convenient and without a doubt they can be quite useful for preventing viral and bacterial infections, however, they also carry a certain amount of risk.
Hand sanitizer dangers: Poisoning
The major concern related to the use of hand sanitizers is the chance of poisoning. Because of their bright colors and nice smell, these products are particularly attractive to children, who may ingest a small amount and get poisoned.
Most hand sanitizers contain 60 percent or 90 percent alcohol, usually ethyl or Isopropyl alcohol, which is a stronger concentration than most hard alcoholic beverages. If ingested, even a small amount can cause problems from dizziness and headache to brain damage and even death.
Hand sanitizers should be kept away from children and even adults should be careful and avoid biting the nails or licking the hands after applying these sanitizing products.
Hand sanitizer dangers: Improper use
If they are not used properly and according to the instructions, hand sanitizers can be dangerous. If used on open wounds, cuts, scrapes and similar, they can aggravate the problem or irritate the wound, causing pain and burning. They can also cause allergic reactions, with rashes and hives.
In addition, hand sanitizers sometimes leave hands as dirty as they were before, but since they promise cleanliness, they can actually contribute to contracting a viral or bacterial disease. For example, if there is still dirt under the fingernails, the sanitizer will not be effective.
Hand sanitizer dangers: Forming habits
Because hand sanitizers in the form of liquid, gel or spray are so convenient for use, some people can start to rely more on them and avoid washing hands normally, with soap and running water. If this persists, their hands can become constantly dirty and this increases the chance of contracting a disease.
In some cases people actually become addicted to these products and tend to use them too much and too often, which can lead to skin problems like dry, flaky skin, rashes and various forms of skin damage.
Hand sanitizer dangers: Fire
Due to their high alcoholic content, hand sanitizers are highly flammable. Even a small amount of sanitizing gel or liquid can burn very hot in contact with the open flame and it can cause severe skin or tissue burns.
In order to prevent fire, hand sanitizers should never be kept near a source of heat or fire, in a hot car, in the direct sunlight. A person using hand sanitizers before cooking or grilling must make sure the hands are completely dry before approaching the heat source.