Keep these risk factors in mind while using hand sanitizers

The hand sanitizer dispensers shouldn’t be placed anywhere near potential sources of ignition.

With the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic, hand sanitizers, which were not commonly in use, have become one of the most sought after personal care products. However, taking advantage of the overwhelming demand of hand sanitizers there are chances that fake or low quality products too may make its way into the markets. Do not use such products if you are skeptical about its quality. The World Health Organization has published some guidelines regarding the standard hand sanitizer formula and how to use them properly.

Will the alcohol content in the sanitizer make the hands drier?

Most hand sanitizers that are available in the market today contain ingredients that can soften or moisturize the skin. Latest studies reveal that those who wash their hands regularly using soap and water are likely to develop dry hands. You might feel a burning or stinging sensation while rubbing sanitizer if you have small cuts or other injuries on hands. You could cover these areas using water proof plaster.

Can hand sanitizers cause allergy?

Sanitizers have been found to be allergic only in rare cases.

Do the hands need to be washed after using hand sanitizer for a few times?

It is a common misconception that one should wash the hands after 4 – 5 applications of the sanitizer. Keeping personal preferences aside, there is no scientific proof whatsoever for such claims.

Is there any report of anyone drinking hand sanitizers?

There have been some reports in the UK and the USA that patients drink hand sanitizers. Experts are worried about it, considering the current situation where hand sanitizers are used a lot. However, the best way to tackle this problem is to manage the supplies in a way which keeps danger away. The hand sanitizers should be issued only to the hospital workers. Besides, the hand sanitizer could be locked in dispensers that are mounted on walls.

What are the adverse effects of hand sanitizers in hospital staff?

There are no evidences to suggest this. Studies have shown that alcohol levels are not detected in the blood after using alcohol-based hand sanitizers.

Some countries banned its use as inhaling ethanol may cause health problems

As per the latest studies, it is safe to use ethanol and isopropyl alcohol as hand sanitizers. Special research programs were conducted by the WHO in this matter as part of its global patient safety challenge program. The study has also investigated the potential harm caused by inhaling alcohol. However, when hand sanitizers are used, due to the limited time of exposure, alcohol is not absorbed into the body measurable quantities.

What are the measures to reduce the risk of fire hazards they pose?

There is no need for panic. The instructions regarding the usage of the product need to be followed. All alcohol based products are potentially flammable and should be stored away from high temperature or flames. Proper risk assessments should be done while producing and storing alcohol based sanitizers or while discarding expired products. Allow the sanitizer to dry completely before indulging in other activities.


A written record of the stock should be maintained. It is better to produce and store hand sanitizers in air conditioned facilities. They should not be handled near sources of ignition or similar objects. One shouldn’t smoke near such storage facilities. As per the WHO guidelines, more than 50 ml of hand sanitizers shouldn’t be stored in small storage units. Make sure to avoid spillage onto clothing or other flammable objects while carrying small bottles or dispensers. Take care that the product is not spilled in cars. Even the small dispensers should be stored in cool places. Close the lid tightly; keep the used dispensers too in cold places. The empty bottles or dispensers need to be rinsed well before using them again.

Location of dispensers

The hand sanitizer dispensers shouldn’t be placed anywhere near potential sources of ignition. It should not be kept near gas cylinders, stove and electric switches.

The dispensers should not be kept above carpets.

Clear instructions should be given to the patients and the care takers about where the dispensers are kept. The instructions could include warnings not to use excessive amounts of hand sanitizer and about spillages and fire hazards as well.


In case of spillage, it is important to immediately remove all sources of ignition from the area. Ventilating the area or diluting the product with water too could be helpful. After diluting with water, the spillage could be absorbed using inert materials like dry sand or saw dust. This should then be disposed in a chemical waste container. The contaminated item should be put in a plastic bag until it can be washed or dried safely.