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Hand sanitizer dispenser

What to do if hand sanitizer gets in your child’s eyes

January 2, 2022

Hand sanitizers kill the viruses that cause COVID-19, the flu and the common cold. They are a good option to clean hands when you don’t have soap and water.

You might have put a bottle of hand sanitizer in your child’s backpack or in your car to use when soap and water aren’t handy. You also should make sure your child is careful when using the liquids and gels.

Kids can get very sick if they swallow hand sanitizer that contains alcohol. The products also can cause eye injuries if they splash into the eyes or children touch their eyes after using sanitizer.

As more people started using hand sanitizers during the COVID-19 pandemic, eye injuries increased, according to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

To make sure your child is using hand sanitizer safely, follow these tips from the FDA:

  • Do not use alcohol-based hand sanitizers in or near the eyes.
  • Do not touch the eyes after using. The alcohol in the sanitizer can cause severe irritation and damage the surface of the eye.
  • Supervise young children, especially when using dispensers that are at their eye level. Hand sanitizer can splash from the dispenser into the eyes.
  • Keep alcohol-based hand sanitizers out of children’s reach and sight.
  • If alcohol-based hand sanitizer gets in your child’s eyes, immediately and thoroughly rinse the eyes under gently running water such as from a sink tap or water bottle for at least 15 to 20 minutes. If the child has eye redness, pain, irritation or trouble seeing after rinsing, get an eye exam as soon as possible.
  • Before buying hand sanitizer, check FDA’s “do-not-use” list at Some hand sanitizers may contain harmful ingredients.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends the following to make sure hand sanitizer kills germs:

  • Use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
  • Put enough sanitizer on the hands to cover all surfaces.
  • Rub hands together until they feel dry (this should take about 20 seconds).

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