Doctors and infectious-disease experts will tell you that hand-washing is the best way to rid your hands of germs, but when that's not feasible, hand sanitizer is definitely far better than nothing — unless it's one of the growing number of hand sanitizers the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has been adding to its list of products that contain methanol.
The FDA recommends using hand sanitizer with an alcohol content of at least 60 percent, but not just any alcohol — ethanol or isopropanol are the safe, effective, and doctor-recommended varieties. Another type of alcohol derived from wood, called methanol, "is a substance that can be toxic when absorbed through the skin or ingested and can be life-threatening when ingested," the FDA warns. And, unfortunately, the agency has been finding more and more products contaminated with it.
Ever since the FDA's original late-June announcement warning consumers to not use hand sanitizers containing methanol and naming nine specific products by Mexico-based company Eskbiochem to avoid, the list of potentially toxic hand sanitizers has grown nearly tenfold, with the most recent additions added on July 24. In addition to more formulas made in Mexico — including a Hello Kitty hand sanitizer manufactured by 4E — a hand sanitizer by Tennessee-based company Leiper's Fork Distillery has been tested and added to the list by the FDA.
Unfortunately, the inclusion of methanol is not always clearly marked on a product label. "FDA is warning consumers and health care providers that the agency has seen a sharp increase in hand sanitizer products that are labeled to contain ethanol (also known as ethyl alcohol) but that have tested positive for methanol contamination," the agency said in a July 2 statement. "Methanol is not an acceptable ingredient for hand sanitizers and must not be used due to its toxic effects. FDA's investigation of methanol in certain hand sanitizers is ongoing. The agency will provide additional information as it becomes available."
You can find the FDA's running list of methanol-containing hand sanitizers at fda.gov. If you suspect you have already been exposed to hand sanitizer with methanol and you're experiencing symptoms like nausea, vomiting, headache, blurred vision, or seizures, the FDA urges seeking immediate treatment.
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Originally Appeared on Allure