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Raising awareness about the unintended consequences of hand sanitiser in children

Olive Khaliq, Princess Z. Mkhize, Jagidesa M. Moodley
South African Family Practice | Vol 63, No 1 : Part 3| a5278 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/safp.v63i1.5278 | © 2021 Olive Khaliq, Princess Zinhle Mkhize, Jagidesa Moodley Moodley | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 09 February 2021 | Published: 28 June 2021

About the author(s)

Olive Khaliq, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Women’s Health and HIV Research Group, Nelson Mandela School of Medicine, Faculty of Clinical Medicine, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa
Princess Z. Mkhize, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Women’s Health and HIV Research Group, Nelson Mandela School of Medicine, Faculty of Clinical Medicine, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa
Jagidesa M. Moodley, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Women’s Health and HIV Research Group, Nelson Mandela School of Medicine, Faculty of Clinical Medicine, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa


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Abstract

The use of hand sanitisers is common practice to prevent the spread of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). However, the safety thereof requires consideration as this may be hazardous in children. Recent studies have shown that the misuse and increased unsupervised availability of alcohol-based hand sanitisers may result in adverse events in children such as skin irritation, dryness, cracking and peeling. Unintentional or intentional ingestion of hand sanitisers in children under the age of 12 years may occur because of the colour, smell and flavour added to it. Consumption of alcohol in children may result in hypoglycaemia, apnoea and acidosis. This allows the invasion of other bacterial and viral infections. Children may also rub their eyes with sanitised hands and cause ocular injury. Therefore, the use of hand sanitisers in general needs to be revised in both children and adults. Other interventions on lowering the risk of adverse events because of misuse of hand sanitiser should be practised more often. These include promoting washing of hands over sanitisers where possible, training children on how to use hand sanitisers and creating awareness of the dangers if ingested or in contact with the eyes.

Keywords

alcohol-based sanitiser; COVID-19; ocular injury; skin irritations; children

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