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Health professionals advise on the risks of hand sanitizer

FDA said if homemade hand sanitizer is made incorrectly, it's not only ineffective, but can cause skin burns.

Posted: Mar 30, 2020 6:40 PM
Updated: Mar 30, 2020 7:56 PM

(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) Hand sanitizer has quickly become a valuable product due to COVID-19.

Hand sanitizer is flying off the shelves during this public health emergency, leaving many people wondering if they should make their own. Local health professionals said that's a bad idea. 

“The percentages and measurements are extremely important to be accurate and that’s why we’re comfortable doing it, but the general public probably should avoid it because everything needs to be mixed in the correct order and you also have to follow several different guidelines, including quality control,” said JulieMarie Nickelson, Rogers Pharmacy pharmacist. 

Rogers Pharmacy makes their own hand sanitizer, following the World Health Organization's formula. 
Pharmacists said the process is complex and requires pharmacy grade ingredients everyday people can't find at the local grocery store. 

“The acquired recommended amount of alcohol content in order to be effective is extremely high so it’s not easy to just make or find the ingredients for it,”said Nickelson. 

FDA said if homemade hand sanitizer is made incorrectly, it's not only ineffective, but can cause skin burns.

FDA advises to keep out of reach of children. 

“If you’ve got something like this in your purse or in a diaper bag and gets ahold of it and consumes all of it, so that’s the equivalent of doing like 4 shots. Obviously, we don’t want kids doing that, so for that reason, it’s best used to also use non scented hand sanitizers so it’s not as appealing to kids,”said Stephanie Malita, St. Joseph Health Department health educator. 

Health educators said the number one rule for parents who use hand sanitizer is to monitor your child's use. 
The FDA said because hand sanitizer bottles are often brightly colored and scented, kids may confuse it as a drink. 

During the COVID-19 pandemic, poison control centers have seen an increase in calls about accidental ingestion of hand sanitizer.

If a child may have ingested hand sanitizer, health professionals said to call the 24/7 poison control help center.

The poison control help center number is 1800-222-1222.

Health professionals said hand washing with soap and water should be the prefered choice over hand sanitizer. 

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More hot and humid weather on the way for today with highs back in the upper 90s with some areas reaching triple digits. Use caution when spending time outside because heat index values will once again be in the triple digits for many. A cold front will start to approach our area tonight and stall to our north giving us a few chances for showers and thunderstorms overnight, however this activity will not be widespread. Temperatures will still be above average this weekend with highs in the 90s. A few lingering rain chances will continue this weekend, but much of the weekend will be dry. The cold front will move through the area early next week giving us some much cooler temperatures. High will be back down in the upper 70s and lower 80s to start off next week.
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