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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter May 31, 2014

Characteristics of hand sanitizer ingestions by adolescents reported to poison centers

Mathias B. Forrester


Background: There had been reports of adolescents using hand sanitizers to obtain alcohol and ending up in emergency departments with alcohol poisoning.

Objective: This study aimed to describe the pattern of adolescent ingestions of hand sanitizers reported to a statewide poison center system.

Subjects: Our study subjects included patients aged 13–19 years who reported hand sanitizer ingestions as reported to Texas poison centers during 2000–2013.

Materials and methods: The distribution of the ingestions was determined for various demographic and clinical factors.

Results: Of 385 total cases, 61% of the patients were male, and the mean age was 15.3 years. The ingestion reason was unintentional (61%), intentional abuse/misuse (18%), and malicious (10%). Ingestion site was most frequently reported to be the patient’s own residence (53%), followed by school (35%). About 77% of the patients were managed on site. The medical outcome was serious (moderate effect or unable to follow-potentially toxic) in 5% of the cases. The most frequently reported adverse clinical effects were vomiting (5%), abdominal pain (4%), nausea (4%), throat irritation (4%), and drowsiness (2%).

Conclusion: Adolescents who ingested hand sanitizers were more likely to be male and younger. One-third of the ingestions occurred at school, suggesting that school personnel might be made aware of the potential problem of hand sanitizer ingestions by adolescents. Nevertheless, despite the potential for serious outcomes from adolescent hand sanitizer ingestion, most of the ingestions reported to poison centers are not likely to be serious and can be successfully managed outside of a healthcare facility.

Corresponding author: Mathias B. Forrester, BS, Epidemiology and Disease Surveillance Unit, Texas Department of State Health Services, 1100 W 49th Street, Austin, TX 78756, USA, Phone: +1-512-776-7111, Fax: +1-512-776-7689, E-mail:


There was no study sponsor or unique source of support.

Conflict of interest statement

The author is aware of no conflict of interest.


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Received: 2014-3-1
Accepted: 2014-4-17
Published Online: 2014-5-31
Published in Print: 2015-2-1

©2015 by De Gruyter

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