Hand Sanitizer List Beneficial for Avoiding Occupational Contact Dermatitis

hand sanitizer
hand sanitizer
A practical guide of no- and low-allergen hand sanitizers for healthcare workers and patients affected by occupational contact dermatitis requiring allergen avoidance has been created.

The following article is part of coverage from the American Academy of Dermatology’s Annual Meeting (AAD 2020). Because of concerns regarding the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, all AAD 2020 sessions and presentations were transitioned to a virtual format. While live events will not proceed as planned, readers can click here to view more news related to research presented during the AAD VMX 2020 virtual experience.

A list of low allergen hand sanitizers distributed to US hospital systems would be beneficial for healthcare workers and patients who may be at an increased risk for developing occupational contact dermatitis, according to study results presented at the American Academy of Dermatology’s Virtual Meeting Experience (AAD VMX) 2020, held online from June 12 to 14, 2020.

Because ingredient lists from medical-grade hand sanitizers are difficult to obtain, researchers from the University of Minnesota Medical School sought to examine allergens contained within hand sanitizers of the major brands used in US hospital systems to serve as a guide for those who may require allergen avoidance. A total of 25 hospitals within the US were called between July and August 2019 and asked to provide the brand names of their hand sanitizers. Hand sanitizer brands and/or specific product names were obtained from 19 of 25 hospitals, the most common of which were Purrell, Ecolab, Alcare, and Avagard. A search for ingredients in these brands was conducted utilizing the NIH and the US National Library of Medicine’s DailyMed website; ingredients were compared with American Contact Dermatitis Society (ACDS) 2017 core allergens and their cross-reactors. Active and inactive ingredients were recorded for each hand sanitizer brand used at a participating hospital.

DailyMed search yielded 80 relevant ingredients corresponding to the hand sanitizers used; the most common ingredients were ethyl alcohol (81.3%), benzalkonium chloride (10.0%), or isopropyl alcohol (3.8%). The top 5 allergens included tocopherol (51.3%), fragrance (41.3%), propylene glycol (27.5%), sodium benzoate (25.0%), and cetyl stearyl alcohol (12.5%). Four brands were free of all ACDS allergens; 14 hand sanitizers contained only tocopherol or propylene glycol as allergens.

Study limitations include selection bias, nonexhaustive product list, and potential change in product formulations, the researchers noted.

As 19 hand sanitizer brands were found to be no- or low-allergen containing, “No- and low-allergen hand sanitizer options are available for healthcare workers with occupational contact dermatitis,” concluded the authors.

Visit our conference section for more coverage from AAD VMX 2020.


Voller L, Hylwa S. Allergenic ingredients in healthcare hand sanitizers: a practical guide for patients with occupational contact dermatitis.  Presented at: AAD VMX 2020; June 12-14, 2020. Poster 18365.