Hand sanitizers are more popular than ever right now thanks to COVID-19, but not all products are created equal. The U.S. Food & Drug Administration is warning that some can actually be harmful.

The FDA has issued a warning against using hand sanitizer products manufactured by  Eskbiochem SA de CV because their products contain methanol (aka wood alcohol). Methanol, they warn, can be toxic when absorbed through the skin or ingested.

"Methanol is not an acceptable ingredient for hand sanitizers and should not be used due to its toxic effects," an FDA statement reads. "Consumers who have been exposed to hand sanitizer containing methanol should seek immediate treatment, which is critical for potential reversal of toxic effects of methanol poisoning."

The say substantial methanol exposure can result in nausea, vomiting, headache, blurred vision, permanent blindness, seizures, coma, permanent damage to the nervous system or death. Although all people who use these products are reportedly at risk, the largest risk group are (of course) children and adults who ingest them.

According to the FDA, they've not received any reports of adverse effects associated with these products, but have asked Eskbiochem to remove them from the marketplace. The company has not taken any such action.

These are the products the FDA says can be harmful:

  • All-Clean Hand Sanitizer (NDC: 74589-002-01)
  • Esk Biochem Hand Sanitizer (NDC: 74589-007-01)
  • CleanCare NoGerm Advanced Hand Sanitizer 75% Alcohol (NDC: 74589-008-04)
  • Lavar 70 Gel Hand Sanitizer (NDC: 74589-006-01)
  • The Good Gel Antibacterial Gel Hand Sanitizer (NDC: 74589-010-10)
  • CleanCare NoGerm Advanced Hand Sanitizer 80% Alcohol (NDC: 74589-005-03)
  • CleanCare NoGerm Advanced Hand Sanitizer 75% Alcohol (NDC: 74589-009-01)
  • CleanCare NoGerm Advanced Hand Sanitizer 80% Alcohol (NDC: 74589-003-01)
  • Saniderm Advanced Hand Sanitizer (NDC: 74589-001-01)

According to the CDC, all alcohol-based hand sanitizers can cause alcohol poisoning if swallowed, so always keep them out of the hands of small children.

The CDC recommends using hand sanitizer containing 60% or more ethanol or 70% or more isopropanol. However, hand washing is still the best way to stay hand hygienic, especially if you've got grease, dirt, or chemicals on your hands. You should wash for at least 20 seconds with plenty of friction.

The FDA is also warning against misleading claims by some hand sanitizer manufacturers, including claims that hand sanitizers can provide 24-hour protection against viruses including COVID-19.

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