Is Hand Sanitizer Harmful to the Eyes?

Given the situation of this pandemic, hand sanitizer or alcohol is essential to use and bring everywhere you go. You will see a hand sanitizer dispenser anywhere including grocery stores, gas stations, schools, or workplaces. Sanitizers at every corner should not surprise people because they know how important it is to disinfect. One of the most important and effective ways to prevent transmission of COVID-19 is keeping hands clean by hand washing or with the use of a hand sanitizer.

A new study from France showed that during the pandemic, the frequent use of hand sanitizer is causing more eye injuries among children. It occurs because they rub their eyes before the sanitizer has fully dried out or by accidentally spraying it into their eye. Sonal Ruli, an ophthalmologist and spokesperson for the American Academy of Ophthalmology, emphasizes that eye irritation from hand sanitizer is a concern not only for children but including adults and health workers.

If you use a small amount of liquid hand sanitizer and it squirts into your eye, the complications are not rare and it is not as serious as other chemical injuries. If it is a large amount of liquid hand sanitizer that has a high concentration of alcohol, complications such as an open sore on the eye, keratitis, corneal abrasions, or the scratch on the surface of the eye may occur. Contact your ophthalmologist right away if the irritation is persistent.

What Should I Do if Hand Sanitizer Gets Into My Eye?

closeup of eye

The eye blinks and creates tears as a natural way of protecting itself from outside particles. If you accidentally get a little bit of hand sanitizer in your eye, your eye will act on its defense. Dr. Tuli compared the circumstances when you experience eye irritation from a shampoo.

The amount of sanitizer does not matter, may it be a small or a big amount, you need to wash your eyes thoroughly with water as soon as it comes into contact with the eye. Talk to your ophthalmologist if symptoms persist.

How Can I Avoid Hand Sanitizer-Related Eye Injuries?

putting hand sanitizer on children's hands

These are tips you can follow especially this time of coronavirus pandemic:

  • Do not put hand sanitizer dispensers at the eye height of children
  • Make sure that your hands are dry from the sanitizer before touching your face
  • Try using foam sanitizer so that the force spraying it is minimized
  • Make sure that the nozzle of the bottle is clear. If there is a block in the nozzle, it can cause an upward and forceful squirt.

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