Urgent - my kid ate hand sanitizer - HELP!
November 3, 2010 8:02 PM   Subscribe

My kid ingested an unknown amount of Hand sanitizer. What should i expect?

I just received a call from my husband. He's at home with our 22 month old toddler while i am at work. He said our daughter ingested an unknown amount of hand sanitizer while he was off in the kitchen grabbing his dinner. I asked him to call poison control immediately and i am waiting for his call back. In the meantime, please reassure me that my kid isn't going to suffer too much (if at all) or please suggest antidotes or whatever - i'm going nuts here because i'm not there with her!
posted by ramix to Health & Fitness (9 answers total)
Call poison control. My guess would be he will be drunk. Assuming the toddler wasn't handling it long enough to let the alcohol evaporate before eating the now alcohol-free gel.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 8:03 PM on November 3, 2010 [3 favorites]

Hand sanitizer is usually alcohol and water and fragrances. I'd agree that the kid would be drunk if he consumed enough alcohol.

The poison control center likely will ask your husband to read the label of the bottle, and they will tell him if the alcohol is poisonous or not (some kinds of alcohol are).
posted by dfriedman at 8:08 PM on November 3, 2010

From snopes:

""Typical exposure by a small child involves a squirt or two from a pump of 70 percent alcohol [sometimes labeled as ethanol] hand sanitizer [and] really isn't usually a problem," [Dr. Edward] Krenzelok [director of the Pittsburgh Poison Control Center & Drug Information Center and a professor of pharmacy and pediatrics at the University of Pittsburgh] explains. "They cry because it tastes bad and maybe it irritates their tongue," he says. According to the American Association of Poison Control Centers, centers are receiving more of these calls as the use of hand sanitizers increases. Combined data from 2005 and 2006 found that poison-control centers reported more than 20,000 exposures to hand sanitizer, with more than 17,000 cases involving children under the age of 6. None of the calls resulted in death, with no major medical problems reported in the children. In fact, more than 9,500 cases resulted in little or no effect."
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 8:08 PM on November 3, 2010 [1 favorite]

This blog post suggests the main danger is that your toddler could get drunk. Not good, but also not likely to cause suffering or long-term harm. Some day you'll get to tell this story at her 21st.
posted by embrangled at 8:20 PM on November 3, 2010 [1 favorite]

If it's an isopropanol-based sanitizer, call poison control immediately. Purell itself is ethanol-based.
posted by benzenedream at 8:52 PM on November 3, 2010

I've seen an alcoholic down an entire bottle of hand sanitiser without any effects beyond being drunk.
posted by Silentgoldfish at 8:58 PM on November 3, 2010 [1 favorite]

It has a fair amount of alcohol in it. So your kid will probably be drunk. The effects may be similar to the ones I had when I consumed 3/4 of a bottle of my Dad's beer when I was 3. They'll maybe run around a lot for a couple of hours and then crash and sleep for the next thirteen.
posted by katyggls at 11:16 PM on November 3, 2010

Thank you all. My husband called poison control and they pretty much confirmed what you all said - she's a little drunk right now. They asked me to give her lots of fluid/water to flush out her system, and to keep an eye on her in case she starts throwing up. I got home to find her running around like a little banshee and giggling quite a bit (like i do when i've had one too many margaritas), but after a hot bath and some warm milk, she's passed out and is snoring quietly here next to me.
posted by ramix at 11:30 PM on November 3, 2010 [19 favorites]

Not that it's the same chemical composition, but I had my mouth, literally, washed out with soap before to no ill (and some positive behavioral) effects.

Good info here on the hand-sani stuff.

Mostly unrelated aside:

For what it's worth in the traditional '3 sink' washing method used in restaurants the process is as follows:

Wash in soapy sink ---> Rinse in rinse sink ---> dunk in sanitizer sink ----> let dry. So in those settings as well you're eating food that has been in contact with material that last touched sanitizer without it being rinsed off. Just FYI.
posted by RolandOfEld at 9:01 AM on November 4, 2010

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