Blog

July 23, 2020

COVID-19 and Hand Sanitizer

Sophia L. Thomas, DNP, FNP-BC, PPCNP-BC, FNAP, FAANP

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought the issues of health and public safety into the national spotlight, with studies being conducted to determine the best ways to fight the disease. One question being answered by these studies is, “How effective is hand sanitizer in fighting COVID-19?” Here are some quick facts and links to teach you how to sanitize properly.

  1. What is the best way to fight COVID-19? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that the most effective way of slowing the spread of disease is to wash your hands thoroughly for at least 20 seconds with soap and water.
  2. Is hand sanitizer effective? Yes. Though the CDC recommends washing your hands, if you do not have access to soap and water, they recommend that you use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol content.
  3. Is hand sanitizer safe? The CDC has instructions on how to correctly use hand sanitizer. If applied properly and as instructed by the Drug Facts Label, hand sanitizer is safe to use.
  4. Where can I purchase hand sanitizer? Hand sanitizer is sold at many retail stores and most pharmacies. Due to COVID-19, supplies of hand sanitizer at many stores are lower than normal or depleted; however, the FDA has issued guidance to increase hand sanitizer production.
  5. Where should I store my hand sanitizer? Hand sanitizer should be stored where a child cannot reach it and at a temperature below 105 °F. 
  6. Is hand sanitizer safe for children? Parental guidance is recommended when used for children under the age of six. This is because, if ingested, hand sanitizer can cause alcohol poisoning in children. If a child has ingested hand sanitizer, call poison control at 1-800-222-1222 or call a medical professional immediately.
  7. Can I make my own hand sanitizer? Though there are currently shortages for hand sanitizer, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends not making your own hand sanitizer. Improperly made hand sanitizer can cause irritation and burns.

Notes: Recently, the FDA has advised that people not use hand sanitizer products from several companies. This is due to high methanol concentrations in these products, which can be toxic. Access more information and the FDA’s list of unapproved hand sanitizers.