Hand Sanitizers and COVID-19
The FDA is working with U.S. government partners, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), medical product manufacturers, and international partners, to address the 2019 coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak.
Test your knowledge of hand sanitizer.
Q. Is hand sanitizer effective against COVID-19?
A. The best way to prevent the spread of infections and reduce the risk of getting sick is to wash your hands with soap and water, advises the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Frequently washing your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds is very important, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after coughing, sneezing or blowing your nose. If soap and water are not available, the CDC recommends consumers use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
Q. Should I use antibacterial soap to wash my hands?
A. The best way to prevent the spread of infections and reduce the risk of getting sick is to wash your hands with plain soap and water, advises the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Frequently washing your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds is very important, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after coughing, sneezing or blowing your nose. Currently, there is no evidence that consumer antiseptic washing products (also known as antibacterial soaps) are more effective at preventing disease than washing with plain soap and water. In fact, some data suggest that antibacterial ingredients may do more harm than good in the long run and more research is needed.
Q. Where can I buy hand sanitizer? If I can’t find it in the store, can I make it myself?
A. Hand sanitizers are sold in many retail stores and pharmacies. However, we know that many stores run out of hand sanitizers and can be difficult to find. To help increase the availability of hand sanitizers, the FDA has issued guidelines for the temporary preparation of alcohol-based hand sanitizers by some companies and pharmacies during the public health emergency caused by COVID-19.The FDA recommends that consumers not make their own hand sanitizers. If done wrong, hand sanitizer can be ineffective, and skin burns have been reported from homemade hand sanitizer. The agency lacks verifiable information on the methods used to prepare hand sanitizer at home and whether they are safe for use on human skin.
Q. Is the FDA taking measures to increase the supply of hand sanitizers?
Yes. The FDA has recently developed numerous guidelines for the temporary preparation of hand sanitizers by pharmacies and other companies during the public health emergency caused by COVID-19. The guidelines describe situations in which these companies do not intend to take action when these companies prepare alcohol-based hand sanitizers for consumer use and for use as healthcare personnel hand lotion during a public health emergency. The FDA has also published guidelines for the production of temporary alcohol for use as an active ingredient in hand sanitizer products by alcohol manufacturers.
Q. What should I do if I get a rash or other reaction to the hand sanitizer?
A. Call your doctor if you have a serious reaction to hand sanitizer. The FDA encourages consumers and healthcare professionals to report adverse events associated with the use of hand sanitizers to the FDA’s MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting program:
- Fill out and submit the report online; or
- Download and complete the form, then fax it to 1-800-FDA-0178.
- Include as much information as possible about the product causing the reaction, including the product name, manufacturer, and batch number (if applicable).
Q.Many surface cleaners and disinfectants say they can be used against SARS-CoV-2. What does it mean? Can I use these products on my hands or body to prevent or treat the virus?
A. Always follow the instructions for household cleaners. Do not use disinfectant sprays or wipes on your skin as they can cause skin and eye irritation. Disinfectant sprays or wipes are not designed for use on humans or animals. Disinfectant sprays or wipes are designed for use on hard, non-porous surfaces.
Q. If I add alcohol to alcohol-free hand sanitizer, would it be better to prevent COVID-19?
A. No. Adding alcohol to an existing alcohol-free hand sanitizer is unlikely to result in an effective product. The FDA has also issued guidelines for the temporary preparation of some alcohol-based hand sanitizer products by companies during the COVID-19 public health emergency. These temporary policies do not currently cover non-alcohol based products.
Q. Does the FDA regulate all hand sanitizers? Do hand sanitizers come with product information on their labels?
A. Hand sanitizers are FDA regulated over-the-counter (OTC) medications.
Hand sanitizers that meet the FDA’s OTC drug review requirements or are manufactured under the conditions in the FDA’s interim policy will include a “Drug Facts” label similar to those found at the end of the guideline: Temporary Policy for Preparation of Certain Alcohol-Based Hand Disinfectants for Public Health Emergency (COVID-19) ). Consumers should make sure that they follow the warnings and precautions described on this label, especially regarding use in children. The Drug Facts label will also explain the ingredients in the product.
To address the supply shortage of hand sanitizers, the FDA has recently developed numerous guidelines for the temporary preparation of hand sanitizers by pharmacies and other companies during the public health emergency caused by COVID-19. The guidelines describe situations in which the agency does not intend to take action when these companies prepare alcohol-based hand sanitizers for consumer use and for use as healthcare personnel hand lotion during a public health emergency.
Q. Do hand sanitizers have an expiration date? Is it still effective after the expiry date?
A. OTC drug products should generally list an expiration date, unless they have data showing that they are stable for more than 3 years. The FDA has no information about the stability or efficacy of pharmaceutical products that have expired. Hand sanitizer manufactured under temporary policies for hand sanitizer manufacture and composition may not have an expiration date listed as it is expected to be used during this public health emergency.
Q. Where should hand sanitizer be stored?
A. Hand sanitizer should be kept out of the reach and sight of children. It should not be stored above 105 ° F (eg in a car in the summer).
Q. Is the hand sanitizer flammable?
Yes. Hand sanitizer is flammable and should be stored away from heat or flame. Hand sanitizer should be rubbed on your hands until they are completely dry before resuming activities involving heat, sparks, static electricity, or open flames.
Q. Is hand sanitizer dangerous for children?
A. Hand sanitizer for children under six years old should be used under adult supervision. Hand sanitizer is not dangerous to children when used according to the instructions on the Medication Facts Label.
Hand sanitizer is dangerous if swallowed by children. Drinking only small amounts of hand sanitizer can cause alcohol poisoning in children. However, you don’t need to worry if your kids eat or lick their hands after using hand sanitizer. It is also important to keep the product out of sight.
Hundreds of calls are made to Poison Control each month for the unintentional ingestion of hand sanitizer. In March 2020 (during the COVID-19 pandemic), Poison Control calls for hand sanitizer rose 79% compared to March 2019. Most of these calls were for unintentional exposures in children age 5 and under. For this reason, it is very important to keep hand sanitizer out of reach and to monitor children when using hand sanitizer.
Q. What should you do if your child swallows hand sanitizer?
A. If your child swallows hand sanitizer, call poison control or a medical professional immediately.
Q. What is denaturant and why are they added to hand sanitizer?
A. Denaturants are added to alcohol to make it less attractive to digestion. Denatured alcohol in hand sanitizer is used to deter children from inadvertently swallowing – denatured alcohol causes hand sanitizer to taste bad so children don’t want to continue after they taste. A series of adverse events occur each year from the deliberate or unintentional ingestion of hand sanitizer, which is particularly worrisome for young children.
Q. How can I find FDA-listed hand sanitizers or verify that a company has their product listed in the FDA?
A. The FDA publishes the product listing information provided by the companies that make the drug in the National Drug Code (NDC) Guidelines. This list does not imply that the drug has been approved by the FDA. Anyone can search for a pharmaceutical product and download the information by searching their NDC, company name or drug name. For a list of all hand sanitizers, select the registered name search and search for the term “hand sanitizer”.
Q. Is spraying aerosolized disinfectant on people through tunnels, walkways, rooms and similar systems effective in reducing the spread of COVID-19?
A. The FDA does not recommend spraying people with aerosolized disinfectant. There are currently no data to suggest that this method is effective in treating or reducing the spread of COVID-19.
Surface disinfectants or sprays should not be used on humans or animals. It is designed for use on hard, non-porous surfaces. The CDC provides information on disinfectant applications for surfaces in the Reopening Guide for Cleaning and Disinfecting Public Places, Workplaces, Workplaces, Schools and Homes. CDC says you should never eat, drink, inhale or inject disinfectants into your body or apply them directly to your skin as they can cause serious damage. indicates that it is required.
Human antiseptic remedies, such as those allowed in hand sanitizers, are designed for use on human skin, but are not intended to aerosolize. The FDA’s temporary policies for alcohol-based hand sanitizers do not specifically apply to aerosol sprays due to respiratory toxicity and ignition risk, among other potential safety concerns. In addition, hand sanitizers are designed for use on the hands and should not be swallowed, inhaled or injected over larger body surfaces.
Q: What does it mean if the label says “alcohol” on my hand sanitizer?
A: Hand sanitizers labeled are expected to contain ethanol (also known as ethyl alcohol), as it includes the term “alcohol” used on its own. In alcohol-based hand sanitizers, only two alcohol is allowed as active ingredients – ethanol (ethyl alcohol) or isopropyl alcohol (isopropanol or 2-propanol). However, the term “alcohol” used per se, hand disinfectant labels specifically refer to ethanol only.
Methanol and 1-propanol are not acceptable ingredients in hand sanitizer and can be toxic to humans.
Q. Is it okay to use a non-alcohol-based hand sanitizer instead of an alcohol-based hand sanitizer? Is it okay to use a benzalkonium chloride hand sanitizer instead of an alcohol-based hand sanitizer? Is a non-alcohol-based hand sanitizer effective against COVID-19?
A. There are currently no drugs available, including an FDA-approved hand sanitizer to prevent or treat COVID-19. The best way to prevent the spread of infections and reduce the risk of getting sick is to wash your hands with soap and water, advises the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Washing hands frequently for at least 20 seconds with soap and water is very important, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after coughing, sneezing or blowing your nose. If soap and water are not available, the CDC recommends that consumers use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% ethanol.
While they are not alcohol-based and are therefore not recommended by the CDC, there are some hand sanitizer products that contain benzalkonium chloride as the active ingredient that can be legally marketed if they meet the marketing requirements under Food, Drug and Pharmaceutical Section 505G. Cosmetics Act. However, as noted above, there are no hand sanitizers, especially those that contain benzalkonium chloride marketed legally for the prevention or treatment of COVID-19. Hand sanitizers that use active ingredients other than alcohol (ethanol), isopropyl alcohol or benzalkonium chloride are not legally marketed and the FDA recommends consumers avoid using them.
As stated in the guidelines, hand sanitizer prepared in accordance with the FDA’s temporary policies during the COVID-19 public health emergency includes only alcohol-based (ethanol and isopropyl alcohol) hand sanitizer. The FDA’s temporary policies do not cover the use of other active or inactive ingredients in hand sanitizers, including benzalkonium chloride, unless otherwise stated in the instruction manual.
Q. What is the risk of using a hand sanitizer that contains methanol (wood alcohol)?
A: The FDA warns consumers and healthcare professionals about hand sanitizers containing methanol, also known as wood alcohol, as it is a dangerous and toxic substance. Methanol can cause serious side effects when absorbed through the skin and may cause blindness or death if swallowed. Do not use any products on this list of hand sanitizers with potential methanol contamination and keep checking this list is usually updated daily. Check your hand sanitizer products to see if they are on this list and dispose of them immediately. Most hand sanitizers found to contain methanol do not list it as an ingredient on the label (because it is not an acceptable ingredient in the product), so it is important to check the FDA’s listing to see if the company or product is included. For more information, visit FDA Updates on Methanol Hand Sanitizers.
Q. What should people who have been exposed to hand sanitizer with potential methanol contamination do?
A: Exposure to methanol can cause nausea, vomiting, headache, blurred vision, permanent blindness, seizures, coma, permanent damage to the nervous system or death. Although people who use these products on their hands are at risk of methanol poisoning, young children who accidentally ingest these products and adolescents and adults who drink these products as alcohol (ethanol) substitutes are most at risk. People who have been exposed to methanol-containing hand sanitizer and experience symptoms should seek emergency medical treatment for possible reversal of the toxic effects of methanol poisoning.
Q: What should I do with a hand sanitizer containing methanol (wood alcohol)?
A: If you have one of the products on this list of hand sanitizers with potential methanol contamination, you should stop using it immediately and ideally dispose of the product in a hazardous waste container. Since these hand sanitizers contain significant amounts of methanol, do not pour these products into drains or wash them. For more information on hazardous waste disposal, contact your local waste management and recycling center.