Getting hand sanitizer in the eye can ruin your day

With review and feedback from CEENTA Ophthalmologist Vipul Shah, MD (Blakeney, Monroe)

Hand sanitizer has been on the frontlines of COVID-19 defense since the beginning of the pandemic. It has been a valuable tool in killing germs, but can it be harmful? Specifically, can it hurt your eyes?

Why are people getting hand sanitizer in their eyes?

According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, hand sanitizer use may be causing an increase in eye injuries, especially among children. The most common causes of these injuries are accidental sprays in the eyes and people rubbing their eyes before the sanitizer has fully evaporated from their hands.

Can hand sanitizer hurt my eyes?

In most cases of accidental sprays, only a tiny amount of sanitizer enters the eyes, and the effects are minimal. However, a larger amount can cause more serious injuries, especially if it is high in alcohol. This can lead to corneal abrasions, corneal ulcers, or even an open sore.

How can I get hand sanitizer out of my eye?

Your tears will help blink away some of it, especially if it’s only a small amount. That said, you should still rinse your eyes thoroughly, and if any irritation remains, or you’ve received a serious injury, you should make an appointment with an ophthalmologist or other healthcare provider who can treat you right away.

How can I avoid sanitizer-related eye injuries?

Vipul Shah, MD

Taking a few key steps can help prevent these injuries. First, make sure hand sanitizer isn’t stored at your children’s eye level. Using foam sanitizer instead of a liquid spray can create a gentler release. Also, making sure the nozzle is clear can ensure the spray goes only into your hands and not at odd angles.

When rubbing it into your hands, make sure you do a thorough job and that it all evaporates before touching your face.

"As common as hand sanitizer is, remember that different types have different components and drying times, so it's important to be careful when using it to not touch your eyes, just as you would with any other chemical,” CEENTA Ophthalmologist Vipul Shah, MD, said.

Eye care at CEENTA

At CEENTA, we want you to do everything possible to stay safe from COVID. Keep using sanitizer, and if you do get some in your eyes, we’ll be happy to treat you.

This blog is for informational purposes only. For specific medical questions, please consult your doctor. New patients can make an appointment online with Dr. Shah or any of our eye doctors in North and South Carolina. Current patients can also make appointments through myCEENTAchart with physicians they have already seen.


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