Q&A: Are hand sanitizers safe for toddlers?
Are antibacterial hand gels safe for my toddler to use? She gets into all sorts of grubby things, but I keep hearing that hand sanitizers may do more harm than good.
Antibacterial hand gels have been instrumental in reducing illness in classroom and work settings and making it easy to be hygienic on the go. But yes, they can be dangerous: Hand gels contain at least 62 percent ethyl alcohol, so you can assume if they are ingested, they can cause problems. I’ve heard stories of curious toddlers—who, as we know, touch, smell, and taste things to explore them—licking gels off their hands and exhibiting symptoms of alcohol intoxication.
So does this make hand sanitizers entirely bad? Probably not. It just means that parents have to treat them like any other dangerous household substance.
- Supervise your child when using the gel.
- Make sure it is thoroughly rubbed in or air dried.
- Keep it out of their reach.
- Look for alcohol-free gels.
- If your toddler does ingest hand gel, seek medical treatment immediately.
If hands are visibly soiled with dirt, bodily fluids, or any other “grubby things,” it is best to rely on good old-fashioned
soap, water, and friction. In a pinch, though, hand gels are fine for
preventing the spreading of germs, as long as they’re just used on hands.