Article of Interest: FDA Warns that Vapors from Alcohol-based Hand Sanitizers Can Have Side Effects


Our team at the Hoffman Toxicant-Induced Loss of Tolerance (TILT) Program at UT Health San Antonio wanted to share this important external article:

FDA warns that vapors from alcohol-based hand sanitizers can have side effects” from the FDA:

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is warning that symptoms such as headache, nausea, and dizziness can occur after applying alcohol-based hand sanitizers to the skin. These symptoms are likely to have occurred because of vapors from the hand sanitizer, potentially from exposure in enclosed spaces or places with poor air circulation. We have received increasing reports of these side effects since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Most people experienced minor or minimal effects; however, some cases required treatment by a health care professional.

View the full details from FDA.

This is important information on chemical exposure, said Dr. Claudia Miller, allergist/immunologist, professor emeritus, and leader of the Hoffman TILT Program at UT Health San Antonio.

“We are receiving growing numbers of complaints about people becoming ill when exposed to disinfectants including bleach and phenolic disinfectants (commercial products with names ending in ‘-ol,’ and also hand sanitizers and fragrances, particularly after repeated use and/or in confined and poorly ventilated areas like bathrooms, kitchens or offices. The pandemic has increased the frequency and severity of these exposures,” Miller said.

Miller added: “Referred to as Toxicant-induced Loss of Tolerance or TILT, sensitization often involves the central nervous system with mild to severe symptoms triggered by very low-level exposure to certain chemicals—chemicals that  never bothered the person before the pandemic and do not bother most people.
Symptoms can include irritability, nervousness, headaches, depression, irregular heartbeat, breathing difficulties, confusion as well as problems with attention, concentration and short-term memory. Many who suffer from TILT also report food and drug intolerances. The symptoms are easily confused with allergies but involve a different branch of the immune system.”

How chemically sensitive are you?

Answer these three questions from the Brief Environmental Exposure and Sensitivity Inventory (BREESI):

  1. Do you feel sick when you are exposed to tobacco smoke, certain fragrances, nail polish/remover, engine exhaust, gasoline, air fresheners, pesticides, paint/thinner, fresh tar/asphalt, cleaning supplies, new carpet or furnishings? By sick, we mean: headache, difficulty thinking, difficulty breathing, weakness, dizziness, upset stomach, etc.
  2. Are you unable to tolerate or do you have adverse or allergic reactions to any drugs or medications (such as antibiotics, anesthetics, pain relievers, X-ray contrast dye, vaccines or birth control pills), or to an implant, prosthesis, contraceptive chemical or device, or other medical/surgical/dental material or procedure?
  3. Are you unable to tolerate or do you have adverse reactions to any foods such as dairy products, wheat, corn, eggs, caffeine, alcoholic beverages, or food additives (e.g., MSG, food dye)?

If you answer YES to any of these three questions, take the Quick Environmental Exposure and Sensitivity Inventory (QEESI) and share the results with your doctor!

Article Categories: Blog