Health care workers with occupational contact dermatitis often attribute their symptoms to frequent use of alcohol-based hand sanitizers. However, ingredient lists are difficult to obtain, and safe alternatives typically must accommodate brands utilized by a particular hospital system.
The aims of this study were to investigate allergenic ingredients present within health care hand sanitizers and to provide a comprehensive product list to assist with allergen avoidance.
Five major hospitals in Minnesota and 20 hospitals across the United States were called to obtain a product list. The National Library of Medicine's DailyMed Web site was searched to retrieve ingredients. Ingredients were compared with the American Contact Dermatitis Society 2017 Core Allergen Series and cross-reactors.
The most common brands included Purell, Ecolab, DebMed, and Avagard. Active ingredients consisted of ethyl alcohol (85.0%), benzalkonium chloride (8.8%), or isopropyl alcohol (2.5%). Top 5 allergens included tocopherol (51.3%), fragrance (40.0%), propylene glycol (27.5%), benzoates (25.0%), and cetyl stearyl alcohol (12.5%). Four sanitizers were free of all American Contact Dermatitis Society allergens; 15 products contained only tocopherol or propylene glycol as allergens.
We identified 19 low-allergen hand sanitizers within the most common brands utilized by US hospital systems. This product list will be useful for patients and health care workers seeking allergen avoidance.