You want to be careful about the brand of hand sanitizer you buy, according to the Food and Drug Administration. The agency says consumers should avoid brands that contain methanol, which can be toxic when absorbed through skin or ingested. Earlier this month there were roughly 12 formulas on the FDA's warning list. Now, the FDA has updated the list to include 76 formulas.
According to the FDA, people have been hospitalized after ingesting hand sanitizer contaminated with methanol. While no reports of hospitalizations have been linked to using it on hands yet, the FDA says you should avoid using these at all. Excessive methanol exposure can lead to nausea, vomiting, headaches, blurred vision, and seizures. People who have used one of the products listed below and have side effects should immediately seek medical help, the agency warns. If you experience adverse effects from an item that isn't on this list, you should still seek medical help and report the product to the FDA's MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting system.
Many of the products have been voluntarily recalled.
Additionally, you should beware of claims like "FDA-approved" since the agency does not approve any hand sanitizer product.
For a full list of problematic hand sanitizers, visit the FDA.
However, washing your hands for 20 seconds is always best—when possible—according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Hand sanitizer should used when soap and water isn't possible. Look for products formulated with 60 percent ethanol or 70 percent isopropanol as active ingredients.
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