The Food and Drug Administration is warning consumers and health care providers about a sharp increase in hand sanitizer products that have tested positive for methanol contamination.
Methanol, or wood alcohol, can be toxic when absorbed through the skin or ingested, and can be life-threatening when ingested.
The agency says it is aware of adults and children ingesting hand sanitizer products contaminated with methanol, leading to blindness, hospitalizations and death.
Methanol is not an acceptable active ingredient for hand sanitizers and must not be used due to its toxic effects.
Consumers who have been exposed to hand sanitizer containing methanol and are experiencing symptoms should seek immediate treatment, the FDA says. Substantial methanol exposure can result in nausea, vomiting, headache, blurred vision, permanent blindness, seizures, coma, permanent damage to the nervous system or death.
Although all people using these products on their hands are at risk for methanol poisoning, young children who accidentally ingest these products and adolescents and adults who drink these products as an alcohol (ethanol) substitute, are most at risk.