The world seems to be very confusing, especially during this pandemic. While we have always heard that too much of everything is bad, we never thought that would be applicable to sanitisers as well. 

Just when we’d gotten into the habit of using sanitisers often, we might have to look out for not over using it.

A team of researchers from Bengaluru’s Narayana Nethralaya has linked a rise in the number of people complaining of itchy eyes and redness to excessive use of alcohol-based hand sanitisers.

According to the study, heavy use of alcohol-based hand rub, and the aerosols it generates, can pose a potential risk to mucosal surfaces of the eye because of close proximity leading to multifold reactions in the user’s eyes, including allergic response to inflammation.  

Alcohol, a key component of sanitisers, is known for its dehydrating properties, which removes moisture in cells and tissues (desiccating stress). This could lead to dry eyes and an inflammatory response, which causes itchiness.

A similar study was conducted by the experts in Japan, which proved that overuse of hand sanitisers. The study stated although alcohol is frequently used to keep hands free of bacteria and viruses, it also deprives skin of oil and water and can result in rough hands and skin irritation if used too much. 

Dry and damaged skin could become a hotbed of disease bacteria and also increase the risk of viruses entering the body through cuts in the skin.

The first signs of the problem came to light during the examination of a 26-year old, who had been complaining of itchiness and redness in her eyes. The woman had mild conjunctivitis, but no watery discharge. 

Discussing more upon the reason behind this, the doctors found out that it might be because of her sanitising her hand every hour. The team now attends to 7-8 cases of red eyes daily. Overall, it has seen nearly 200 cases.

The doctors observed all the cases are recent and the symptoms started after the symptoms started after the lockdown. One fifth of the patients are aged below 18 and an important point to note is that about 40% of more severe presentations are healthcare workers or their family members.