Two children have had to be hospitalized in the Spanish region of Galicia within the last week after two separate accidents with hand sanitizers caused serious eye damage.
One child, 3, is undergoing an amniotic membrane transplant to his left eye after a classmate threw hand sanitizer in his face during lunch at school.
“I don’t blame the other child, but what I don’t understand is how such young children have access to hand sanitizer,” his mother told Europa Press.
According to the boy’s family, after the incident, the school called his mother, who works 8 kilometers away (5 miles), to pick him up instead of rushing him for medical care.
He developed a corneal ulcer and has had to be heavily sedated because of intense pain.
A similar incident occurred after a public hand sanitizer dispenser operated by a pedal sprayed the gel into a 2-year-old’s face in the town of A Pobra de Caraminal.
According to broadcaster Antena 3, the boy had to be sedated because of pain but his cornea does not appear to be damaged.
The Pediatric and Ophthalmology department of the Santiago y Barbanza Hospital confirmed two children were hospitalized for serious ocular problems and warned that young children should not use hand sanitizer unsupervised.
The hospital said reactions are usually “mild” when hand sanitizer gets in eyes, but it should be taken seriously.
“If your eyes are accidentally exposed to these kinds of products, you have to act quickly, rinsing the zone with abundant water and immediately seeking medical assistance,” said Federico Martino, director of Pediatric services in the hospital.
While hand sanitizer has become ubiquitous in the coronavirus pandemic world, it can be dangerous around children.
According to the Spanish National Institute of Toxicology and Forensic Sciences (INTCF), 874 children have required medical assistance for hand sanitizer poisoning in 2020 — an increase of more than 900% compared to all of 2019.
More than 80% of poisoning symptoms were mild and quickly subsided, according to the report.
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