Hand Sanitizers Can Cause Headaches Too

Nikki Attkisson | Last Updated : June 19, 2021

A surge of negative responses to alcohol-based hand sanitizers has resulted from the coronavirus pandemic.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the United States has issued a warning that symptoms such as headache, nausea, and dizziness might develop after using alcohol-based hand sanitizers on the skin. 

Hand Sanitizers Can Cause Headaches Too

These symptoms are most likely caused by fumes from the hand sanitizer, maybe as a result of exposure in confined areas or regions with inadequate air circulation. Since the beginning of the COVID-19 epidemic, they have received an increasing number of reports of these negative effects. 

Hand Sanitizers Can Cause Headaches Too

The majority of persons reported mild to minor side effects; nevertheless, certain situations necessitated the intervention of a health care expert.

 They are still monitoring reports of adverse occurrences associated with hand sanitizers. They are not making any modifications to the Drug Facts label for hand sanitizers at this time but will notify the public if more information becomes available.

Hand sanitizers are over-the-counter (OTC) products that can assist customers in reducing germs on their hands. However, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the best approach to prevent the transmission of diseases and reduce the chance of getting sick is to wash one’s hands with ordinary soap and water (CDC). 

It is critical to wash one’s hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after using the toilet, before eating, and after coughing, sneezing, or blowing one’s nose. If soap and water aren’t available, the CDC suggests using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Hand sanitizers are applied to the skin and allowed to dry.

Consumers should use hand sanitizers in a well-ventilated environment. If they are using hand sanitizer in a confined space, such as a car, they should open a window to increase ventilation until the hand sanitizer is dry and the fumes have dissipated. Before engaging in any activity involving heat, sparks, static electricity, or open flames, people must ensure that the hands are totally dry and that any fumes have dissipated.

Hand sanitizers, as well as any other OTC and prescription medications, should be kept up and out from children’s reach and sight. Swallowing even a tiny amount of hand sanitizer can result in alcohol poisoning in children, resulting in serious sickness or death.

They examined case reports filed to the FDA as well as calls to the U.S. Poison Control Center about systemic symptoms after using alcohol-based hand sanitizers on the skin.

This is most likely due to fumes from the hand sanitizer, maybe from exposure in confined places or those with inadequate air circulation. The number of cases in both data sets grew significantly after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

They found 50 incidences of severe adverse events after using alcohol-based hand sanitizers in cases reported to the FDA between January 1, 2010, and December 31, 2020. All of these cases were reported after March 2020, coinciding with a significant rise in the usage of hand sanitizer during the COVID-19 pandemic. The majority of the 50 instances were adults, with four involving children.

They also checked the American Association of Poison Control Centers (AAPCC) National Poison Data System (NPDS) database between January 1, 2018, and December 31, 2020, and found 299 incidents of dermal (n=138) and inhalation/nasal (n=161) exposure to alcohol-based hand sanitizer with a related clinical effect. After March 2020, the number of exposures increased considerably. The majority of cases were adults, with children aged 5 and under accounting for 12% of all cases.

The clinical symptoms of ethanol were headache, nausea, and dizziness/vertigo.

Inhaling vapors as a method of alcohol absorption after applying alcohol-based hand sanitizer to the skin is described in the report.

Nikki Attkisson

With over 15 years as a practicing journalist, Nikki Attkisson found herself at Powdersville Post now after working at several other publications. She is an award-winning journalist with an entrepreneurial spirit and worked as a journalist covering technology, innovation, environmental issues, politics, health etc. Nikki Attkisson has also worked on product development, content strategy, and editorial management for numerous media companies. She began her career at local news stations and worked as a reporter in national newspapers.

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