As the covid pandemic has gripped our society across the globe, pediatricians and parents have all noted new and often serious associated health risks for children. Previously I discussed concerns regarding increased screen use among children and adolescents, as well as avoidance strategies for that practice. Another upsetting trend is an alarming increase in eye injuries from alcohol based hand sanitizers(ABHS).
A French based study noted a 7 fold increase in their poison control contacts regarding these eye injuries. Most involved children <4 years; many cases occurred when families were out in public places like shopping malls as opposed to in the home. While most cases were mild and no instances or permanent eye damage were reported, there was an upsetting number of cases deemed “moderate” in severity–involving “keratitis” with corneal abrasions and burns. Those incidents could still result in more persistent eye problems–only time will tell. Of note is that, by definition ABHS is sanitary, so infections as a result of these injuries is not a problem.
The reason for this new problem is obvious–the explosion in number of hand sanitizer stations in public places–virtually everywhere you look. Given the pandemic, this is necessary and good. Many of these stations are placed about 3 feet above the floor which is right at eye level for younger children and the most common course of action is that the child rubs his hands still moist with ABHS into his eyes, resulting in injury.
Some suggestions to protect your child:
- As with everything–vigilance. When in public places like malls be aware of ABHS station locations and keep young children away from them
- Of course at home keep these products out of reach of small children.
- Do not allow children to play with ABHS dispensers.
- Endeavor to clean children’s hands with traditional soap and water as opposed to ABHS as much as possible.
- If you do use ABHS on your children’s hands, you apply and rub in thoroughly until dry.
- If ABHS does get into your child’s eyes, IMMEDIATELY rinse vigorously with water for up to 15 minutes. Do not wait to see if there is pain or evidence of trauma. Delay can allow injury to worsen.
- If after that time frame your child still complains of sharp pain promptly seek medical attention.
- As a public safety matter, popular venues should endeavor to place ABHS dispensers higher up, above the eye level of young children. Ideally, a warning sticker should be displayed at each site.
Although it is outside the scope of my blog, as an animal lover please allow me to point out that ABHS is NOT to be used on your pet. If they chew the bottle and swallow it, that can be highly toxic. ABHS should not be placed on animal’s skin and in particular not on its mouth, nose, or, of course, its eyes. Contact your veterinarian promptly if your pet is exposed to ABHS in that way.
Send along questions and comments, and thanks for following.