Hand sanitizer is causing an epidemic of chemical burns to children’s eyes


All that hand sanitizer people have been slathering on since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic has lead to more than just dry hands and eye-watering smells: More and more children are showing up to hospitals with hand sanitizer in their eyes, in some cases risking blindness.

In a paper published Thursday (Jan. 21) in the journal JAMA Ophthalmology, researchers working with data from the French Poison Control Center (PCC) found a sevenfold increase in that country in reports of kids getting hand sanitizer in their eyes. In 2019, hand sanitizer accounted for just 1.3% of all chemical eye exposure incidents in the pediatric database. By the end of 2020, that number was up to 9.9%. Just one toddler in France required hospitalization for sanitizer in his eyes in 2019. In 2020, 16 children were hospitalized for such chemical exposure. A second study in the same journal described two cases in India of small children getting hand sanitizer in their eyes, with serious consequences (though both made full recoveries after treatment).


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