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Doctor offers tips for parents shopping for safe hand sanitizers

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SIOUX CITY, Iowa (KTIV) - As some states see another spike in COVID-19 cases, doctors are reminding people to continue wearing masks, socially distancing, and washing hands. If you can't wash your hands, you can use hand sanitizer.

But, lately, the safety of a number of hand sanitizers produced in Mexico, which contain methanol, have been called into question. KTIV asked Dr. Larry Volz, the medical director for MercyOne Siouxland Medical Center, what parents should look for when shopping for a safe brand of hand sanitizer. "What should parents be looking for when it comes to hand sanitizer that's safe for kids?" asked Matt Breen.

"Methanol is a really dangerous kind of alcohol that's really not as effective as ethanol is, which is the standard type of alcohol use in those types of hand sanitizers," said Dr. Larry Volz, MercyOne Siouxland Medical Center Medical Director. "When we find products that have methanol in them they can be very dangerous and can cause blindness and even death. What families need to look for are products that are FDA-approved because the FDA does not approve hand sanitizer, and that can be a sign that it's a lower-budget type hand sanitizer. They also need to look for hand sanitizers that are sold in bottles that might be enticing to kids that they may want to drink. At the FDA's website there's a list of the specific hand sanitizers that have been tested and proven to have methanol in them. So, that's probably the safest place to look."

"What are some safety measures for teens as they start to get together more… especially with lots of graduation parties going on right now," asked Breen. "And, how do I help my teenager stay safe, and still let them hang out with their friends?"

"I think these are the same restrictions we've been trying to follow all summer long, and since the start of COVID," said Volz. "We need to try to limit our interactions to a smaller of people, and really maintain social distancing, be washing our hands with hand sanitizer, and washing your hands with soap and water, too. And, wearing your masks as much as possible. But, it's the same rules we've been following all long. It's going to be more challenging, but hopefully we've been guiding our kids through example and how to follow these limitations."

"We're hearing a lot about hydroxychloroquine," Breen said. "Can it treat COVID-19? And, are there risks of taking it?"

"The debate around hydroxychloroquine continues," said Volz. "Most of the literature… there's really reliable studies that we would use in the medical field that suggest there's really no benefit to hydroxychloroquine. It is not recommended to take it. And, the side effects of hydroxychloroquine really are cardiac-based. They lead to arrhythmias in the heart. Arrhythmias can be fatal. Taking hydroxychloroquine without appropriate guidance is not recommended. And, we're not using it in the hospital for treatment."

Matt Breen

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