Poison centers nationwide have seen a nearly 400-percent increase in cases of children ingesting hand sanitizer, according to the Georgia Poison Center. A major concern is with young teens that are using the sanitizer as a way to get drunk.
It's a problem that peaked in Texas in 2009, but with the increase in fruity flavors and colorful tubes, they are seeing a new resurgence, according to the Texas Poison Center.
In 2009 the Texas Poison Center received 2,100 calls about kids ingesting the hand sanitizer. In 2014 there were 1,600 calls and so far in 2015 there have been more than 1,100 calls.
Texas Poison Center officials told Newschannel 6 not to be shocked by the seemingly small numbers; a majority of these cases go unreported. It is still a growing problem that is something parents need to monitor, according to Jeanie Jaramillo-Stametz, Managing Director of the Texas Panhandle Poison Center.
While nationwide those statistics involve children ages 12 and under, the age of those involved in the cases in Texas is significantly younger. All of the reported cases in Texas involve children six-years-old and younger.
What that means is that the younger kids are accidentally getting the sanitizer in their mouth, whereas the older teens may be ingesting the sanitizer on purpose.
Different brands of sanitizer have different amounts of alcohol, all of which are significantly higher than that of alcoholic beverages you buy from the store. Alcohol content in sanitizer can range from 40-percent to 95-percent. Beer only contains five-percent and wine has just 12-percent of alcohol content.
Whether or not children are accidentally getting the sanitizer in their mouth or doing it on purpose it can have very severe consequences. Depending on the amount of sanitizer ingested you can experience a few different symptoms. You could experience vomiting and irritation in the mouth. You could also see signs of intoxication like slurred speech and dizziness.
If you experience those signs of hand sanitizer or alcohol poisoning you can wipe your mouth out with a wet cloth and drink some fluids.
However, the treatment necessary depends on the type of situation, which is why you are encouraged to contact poison control. They will be able to tell you if it's something you can safely monitor from your home or if you will need to seek emergency treatment. For a poisoning emergency call 1-800-222-1222.