The Hidden Risk of Using Hand Sanitizer

Woman using hand sanitizer

It’s been nearly a year since we’ve been handling the lifestyle changes that come with a major pandemic. Social distancing, plexiglass dividers, mask wearing, and, of course, using even more hand sanitizer than ever before. According to a recent Market Analysis Report by Grand View Research, 77% of the U.S. population are using hand sanitizer right now. And why shouldn’t they? These easy to grab-and-go bottles kill germs fast.

One thing you may not realize is that, just like any liquid containing high concentrations of alcohol and alcohol vapors, it’s highly flammable. Most hand sanitizer can give off vapor in the surrounding air which easily ignites when near a flame. During February, Burn Awareness Week, let’s bring our attention to a lesser known cause of serious skin burns.

Hand Sanitizer is Very Flammable

While hand sanitizer is still wet, any contact with a flame, electric switch, or static electricity can ignite a small nearly invisible flame, burning items around it and any skin it is in contact with. In September, a Texas mom suffered severe burns after lighting a candle with still-wet hands from sanitizer. She was hospitalized with burns on 18% of her body. In another instance, a MassBay college freshman was burned at an outdoor birthday party when one of the guests used hand sanitizer as an accelerant for their fire pit causing the boy third-degree burns on his leg.

While these incidents can and do happen, it is very uncommon. To avoid hand sanitizer burns happening to you, here are some helpful tips:

What You Can Do to Avoid Burns from Hand Sanitize

  • Wait until your hand sanitizer is dry before touching any surface or going near any ignition source. Just because you don’t touch it does not mean the vapors can’t.
  • Read the label on the bottle for information on how to safely store hand sanitizer.
  • Use soap and water when you can.

Hand sanitizer is still an important way to battle the spread of the coronavirus and other germs, but, like anything else, it’s important to following the warning labels and engage in proper handling. If you have questions about burn safety, call The Derm Group at 973.571.2121.