Written by Jayne S., RN, CSPI
When soap and water are not available, hand gels do come in “handy” when trying to combat the cold and flu. The smaller containers can attach to backpacks or be carried in purses where curious children may find them. Many of these products smell very good and come in pretty colors. They usually contain a form of alcohol, such as ethyl alcohol, as well as fragrances.
Generally a tiny lick of a hand gel should not pose as a problem. However since alcohol is an ingredient, toxicity is possible. Signs of drunkenness, as well as nausea and vomiting could be seen with ingestion of large amounts. Also if hand gel is accidentally rubbed into the eyes irritation may occur and a poison specialist can give advice on that type of exposure. Never hesitate to call the Indiana Poison Center at 1-800-222-1222 for any exposure to a hand gel.