BENGALURU: Overuse of sanitisers poses a threat to skin and exposed mucosal surfaces, especially of the eye, a team of ophthalmologists from Narayana Nethrayala Eye Institute, Rajajinagar, has found. In the study, which was published in Indian Journal of Ophthalmology, Dr Chaitra Jayadev, treasurer, Karnataka Ophthalmic Society, revealed that a 26-year-old woman consulted them on a tele-ophthalmology platform where she complained of episodic redness, irritation, and a burning sensation over a few weeks in her eyes, which occurred 6-7 times a day. There was mild conjunctival congestion, but no discharge or lid edema. The patient was then asked if there was any recent change in use of toiletries or cosmetics. While this history was negative, the patient confided that she was using a hand sanitiser spray almost on an hourly basis.
The paper said close to 60 per cent of tele-consultations conducted so far had been for red-eye. A quarter of these were infective, while a majority were non-specific. Ranging from mild to severe with significant congestion and chemosis, all were of recent origin, and after the lockdown, while a fifth of them involved people aged less than 18 years. Nearly 40 per cent of the more severe presentation was in healthcare workers and those involved in COVID care.
Dr Jayadev said, “We looked at the data and realised that these symptoms could be due to the overuse of sanitisers. Hence, we came up with a set of guidelines. Alcohol-based hand rubs and aerosols pose a potential threat to the skin and exposed mucosal surfaces, especially that of the eye due to the proximity of use. This leads to sanitiser aerosol driver ocular surface disease (SADOSD).” He further advised that sanitisers should be used only when required and in instances of touching surfaces in a public domain. Use of soap and running water for hand cleansing can be a safe alternative.
Close your eyes while pressing the nozzle of sanitiser bottle
Keep the bottle below eye level during usage
Avoid using sanitisers in an air-conditioned set-up
Use lubricant sodium hyaluronate-based sanitisers if needed
Try to cleaning hands with soap and water. Use sanitisers only when necessary