‘Hypoallergenic’ Hand Sanitizers Often Contain Common Allergens

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Carina M. Woodruff, MD Department of Dermatolog University of California, San Francisco

Dr. Woodruff

Carina M. Woodruff, MD
Department of Dermatolog
University of California, San Francisco

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Rigorous hand hygiene has been an important component of the CDC’s COVID-19 guidelines. With millions of Americans now using hand sanitizers regularly, we are seeing many more cases of hand dermatitis. Our study evaluated the key product features and most common allergens in the top-reviewed, commercial hand sanitizers sold by major US retailers.

We found that the most common potential allergens were tocopherol, fragrance, propylene glycol and phenoxyethanol. Our study also showed that nearly 1 in 5 marketing claims on these products was misleading. For example, 70% of sanitizers with the marketing claim “hypoallergenic” included at least one common allergen in its formulation.

MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?

Response: Readers developing hand rashes should consider switching to a fragrance-free hand sanitizer with at least 60% ethyl alcohol or 70% isopropyl alcohol as the active ingredient and an added emollient, such as glycerin, squalene, aloe vera or urea. “Natural” or “herbal” products with essential oils or botanical extracts, although popular, aren’t necessarily safer because they contain highly sensitizing fragrance chemicals. Consumers should also remember that phrases on product labels such as “hypoallergenic” or “dermatologist recommended” are just marketing claims without any clinical relevance – there are no federal minimal standards regulating the use of the claims.

MedicalResearch.com: Is there anything else you would like to add?

Response: Our findings add to a growing body of evidence suggesting the need for more regulatory oversight of personal care product packaging in the US.

I don’t have any relevant financial disclosures. 


Allergens and Marketing Claims in Commercial Hand Sanitizers: A Cross-Sectional Study

Lily Guo,, Heidi Bai,, Nina Botto, Carina M. Woodruff
Published online: November 24, 2021

 [wysija_form id=”3″]


The information on MedicalResearch.com is provided for educational purposes only, and is in no way intended to diagnose, cure, or treat any medical or other condition. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health and ask your doctor any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. In addition to all other limitations and disclaimers in this agreement, service provider and its third party providers disclaim any liability or loss in connection with the content provided on this website.


Last Updated on November 27, 2021 by Marie Benz MD FAAD