There have been nearly 71,000 reports to poison control centers of children ages 12 and under ingesting sanitizer between 2011 and 2014, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports.
Many hand sanitizers contain up to 60% to 95% ethanol or isopropyl alcohol and are often combined with perfumes that smell really good to children.
Symptoms of swallowing sanitizer can include stomach pain, vomiting or drowsiness. Exposure can have serious effects like seizures, alcohol poisoning, organ damage and even death. Sanitizer in the eyes can also lead to an eye infection.
This CDC research also indicates that over 800 cases of sanitizer poisoning were intentional. That suggests older children might be deliberately misusing or abusing alcohol hand sanitizers.
As a result, the CDC is suggesting increased adult supervision when children are using them at school. They are also recommending that they are kept out of reach for young children.
Bottom line: sanitizers are a great alternative in a pinch, but if you have a chance to wash your hands instead, it's always better. Some biologists say that with a terrifying number of drug resistant bacterias growing every day, it might not be a bad idea to give a few germs a pass.