Hyderabad: After COVID-19 happened, hand sanitizers have become an absolute necessity. But caution must be exercised while choosing one. Substandard and counterfeit sanitizers have flooded the market. Several companies are capitalizing on public fear, pushing safety standards to the backburner.
While the FDA recommends using ethanol, manufacturers are substituting it with methanol, a cheaper alternative. Health experts warn that methanol exposure can cause several toxic effects. After receiving complaints about fake sanitizer units, Drugs Control Administration, Government of Telangana, leaped into action. It ordered drug inspectors to collect sanitizer samples across every district in the state.
How to find an effective sanitizer?
Runny, liquid sanitizers are more effective. After applying on hands, the sanitizer must evaporate within 60 seconds. Sticky or greasy sanitizers will result in skin allergies. Experts recommend that consumers use an alcohol-based sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent ethanol. When using a hand sanitizer, you should rub your hands together for 20 to 30 seconds.
Ethanol or Methanol?
The danger lies in one letter that makes all the difference. The pandemic has boosted sanitizer sales. Attractive bottles filled with colorful liquids are displayed in supermarkets and medical shops. Though we religiously disinfect our hands with sanitizers, most of us do not know what goes into making one.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests using a sanitizer with greater than 60 percent ethanol (ethyl alcohol) or 70 percent isopropanol (isopropyl alcohol). It firmly advised against using a sanitizer made of methanol (methyl alcohol).
Is methyl alcohol dangerous?
The USFDA asked consumers to avoid sanitizers that use methanol. Methyl alcohol can be dangerous when ingested or absorbed through the skin. It can be fatal in large quantities. The toxic effects of methanol include nausea, vomiting, blurred vision and convulsions. Young children are highly susceptible to methanol poisoning.
How much is too much?
The CDC has warned against excessive usage of sanitizers. Though sanitizer is effective in killing microbes, it can cause many unwanted side effects such as cracked hands and blisters. Hand sanitizers with antibacterial ingredients can contribute to the development of antibiotic resistance.
Dr Naveen Kumar, Joint Director at Drugs Control Administration Hyderabad, told Eenadu that the WHO recommended formula for hand sanitizers. In India, we use only 3 or 4 active ingredients.
Sanitizers made of ethanol are the safest and most effective. Methanol is cheap and plenty. In fact, it is difficult to differentiate methanol from ethanol. It came to our notice that several companies have been producing methanol-based sanitizers.
We are going to take stern action against them. Dr. Putta Srinivas, the Dermatologist, opined that soap and water is the most effective way for handwashing. When using a sanitizer, it is important to moisturize your hands before going to bed. Since ingestion may prove fatal, children must be kept away from sanitizers, especially the colorful and fragrant ones.