FDA Coronavirus Q&As

The FDA is working to address the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak and keep you and your family informed on the latest developments. Here are answers to some frequently asked questions from consumers about hand sanitizers and about your pets:
Q: What is the risk of using a hand sanitizer that contains methanol (wood alcohol) or 1-propanol?
A: The FDA is warning consumers and health care professionals about hand sanitizers contaminated with potentially toxic types of alcohol.
Methanol, also known as wood alcohol, is a dangerous and toxic substance. Methanol can cause serious side effects when absorbed through the skin and can cause blindness or death when swallowed. Also, 1-propanol (or 1-propyl alcohol) is used to make industrial solvents (a type of cleaner) and can be toxic to people when swallowed. Swallowing or drinking a hand sanitizer with 1-propanol can result in decreased breathing and heart rate, among other serious symptoms, and can lead to death. Learn more about potential side effects.
Before you buy hand sanitizer or use hand sanitizer you have at home, the FDA recommends checking our do-not-use list at www.fda.gov/handsanitizerlist. We update the list regularly as new test results are released. If the manufacturer is included on this list, dispose of the hand sanitizer products immediately, ideally in a hazardous waste container.
If a product on the list does not identify the manufacturer on the label, consumers can contact the distributor whose name appears on the label to find out who manufactured the product. If the distributor refuses to clarify this information when contacted by a consumer, the FDA advises consumers not to use that product. Most hand sanitizers found to contain methanol or 1-propanol do not list it as an ingredient on the label, so it’s important to check the FDA’s list.
Visit FDA Updates on Hand Sanitizers Consumers Should Not Use for more information.
Q: What should people do if they have been exposed to hand sanitizer with potential methanol or 1-propanol contamination?
A: Methanol exposure can result in nausea, vomiting, headache, blurred vision, permanent blindness, seizures, coma, permanent damage to the nervous system or death. Although people using these products on their hands are at risk for methanol poisoning, young children who accidentally swallow these products and adolescents and adults who drink these products as an alcohol (ethanol) substitute are most at risk.
Swallowing or drinking a hand sanitizer with 1-propanol can result in decreased breathing and heart rate, among other serious symptoms, and can lead to death. Hand sanitizer with 1-propanol contamination can irritate your skin (or eyes, if exposed). Although it is rare, some people have reported allergic skin reactions. Learn more about methanol and 1-propanol toxicities.
People who have been exposed to contaminated hand sanitizer and are experiencing symptoms should seek immediate medical treatment for potential reversal of toxic effects. Call 911 if the person is unconscious or has trouble breathing. Call Poison Help at 1-800-222-1222 to connect to your local poison center.
The FDA encourages health care professionals, consumers and patients to report adverse events or quality problems experienced with the use of hand sanitizers to FDA’s MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting program (please provide the agency with as much information as possible to identify the product):

Q: Can pets carry the virus that causes COVID-19 on their skin or fur?
A: Although we know certain bacteria and fungi can be carried on fur and hair, there is no evidence that viruses, including the virus that causes COVID-19, can spread to people from the skin, fur, or hair of pets.
However, because animals can sometimes carry other germs that can make people sick, it’s always a good idea to practice healthy habits around pets and other animals, including washing your hands before and after interacting with them and especially after cleaning up their waste.
There are no products that are FDA-approved to disinfect the hair or coats of pets, but if you do decide to bathe or wipe off your pet, first talk to your veterinarian about suitable products.
Never use hand sanitizer, counter-cleaning wipes or other industrial or surface cleaners, as these can penetrate the skin or be licked off and ingested by your pet. If you have recently used any of these products on your pet, or your pet is showing signs of illness after use, contact your veterinarian.
To learn more about these and other coronavirus topics, visit:
Frequently Asked Questions