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Risk for Alcohol Poisoning Hand sanitizer poses a potential risk for alcohol poisoning, particularly for young children who are attracted to the fun scents and bright colors of many sanitizers. According to Dr. Sanjay Gupta, a two-ounce bottle of hand sanitizer contains 62 percent ethyl alcohol, or the equivalent of four shots of vodka. At that concentration, even a small dose can be dangerous if ingested, leading to dizziness, slurred speech, headaches, and even brain damage or death in extreme cases.
In addition, topically applied ethanol acts as a skin penetration enhancer and may facilitate the transdermal absorption of xenobiotics (e.g. carcinogenic contaminants in cosmetic formulations). Ethanol use is associated with skin irritation or contact dermatitis, especially in humans with an aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH) deficiency.
After regular application of ethanol on the skin (e.g. in the form of hand disinfectants) relatively low but measurable blood concentrations of ethanol and its metabolite acetaldehyde may occur, which are, however, below acute toxic levels. Only in children, especially through lacerated skin, can percutaneous toxicity occur.
isopropyl alcohol and its metabolite, acetone, act as central nervous system (CNS) depressants. Poisoning can occur from ingestion, inhalation, or skin absorption. Symptoms of isopropyl alcohol poisoning include flushing, headache, dizziness, CNS depression, nausea, vomiting, anesthesia, hypothermia, low blood pressure, shock, respiratory depression, and coma