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People’s Pharmacy: Do you absorb alcohol from hand sanitizers?

UPDATED: Wed., June 2, 2021

Hand sanitizer is used as students arrive in the morning at the main gate at Holy Family Catholic Primary School in Greenwich, London, England, on Wednesday, May 19, 2021. Holy Family, like schools across Britain, is racing to offset the disruption caused by COVID-19, which has hit kids from low-income and ethnic minority families the hardest.  (Alastair Grant/Associated Press)
Hand sanitizer is used as students arrive in the morning at the main gate at Holy Family Catholic Primary School in Greenwich, London, England, on Wednesday, May 19, 2021. Holy Family, like schools across Britain, is racing to offset the disruption caused by COVID-19, which has hit kids from low-income and ethnic minority families the hardest. (Alastair Grant/Associated Press)
By Joe Graedon, M.S.,</p><p>and Teresa Graedon, Ph.D. King Features Syndicate

Q. I wonder about the safety of using so much hand sanitizer. How much of the alcohol is absorbed through the skin, and what effect does it have on our systems?

A. Thank you for this interesting question. A study published in the journal Alcohol and Alcoholism (June 25) reports that this is not a problem.

The authors performed a small experiment in which subjects applied generous quantities of alcohol-based sanitizer to their hands.

The researchers conclude: “Despite the small number of subjects and measurements, this anecdotal study strongly indicates that contrary to repeated claims, significant cutaneous absorption of ethanol from even frequent use of hand sanitizers or other ethanol-containing liquids does not occur.”

Q. I had COVID-19 in December. I got over the pneumonia but have been left with brain fog. I am also very weak and get tired easily. My right hand shakes. I had none of these problems before catching COVID-19.

Is it dangerous to get the vaccination after you have already had COVID-19? My doctor says it is safe once three months have gone by, but I am still nervous. Any information you have would be appreciated.

A. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: “Yes, you should be vaccinated regardless of whether you already had COVID-19.

“If you were treated for COVID-19 with monoclonal antibodies or convalescent plasma, you should wait 90 days before getting a COVID-19 vaccine.”

We have heard from experts that the vaccine might even help overcome some of the symptoms of post-COVID-19 syndrome, or PCS.

According to Yale Medicine (April 12): “As more people get vaccinated, a surprise discovery has been that the vaccines seem to provide relief for some patients with what’s being called ‘long COVID-19’ (when symptoms linger for weeks or even months).

“ … As many as 30% to 40% of those who get the vaccine have reported improvements to their symptoms.”

To learn more about PCS and ways to treat this mysterious condition, you may want to listen to our podcast, Show 1254: “Combating the Long-Term Effects of Post-COVID-19 Syndrome.”

It is under the podcast tab at peoplespharmacy.com.

Q. Can you give me at least three good remedies for gas? My marriage is in jeopardy. I’ve tried GAS-X during each meal and two or three tablets between meals to no effect.

A. First, you might want to keep a “fart chart.” By creating a diary of what you have eaten and how many times you pass gas, you might be able to determine which foods are causing your distress. Then you can try eliminating them to see if that helps.

Next, consider an over-the-counter product such as Beano. It contains the enzyme alpha-galactosidase, which helps break down oligosaccharides in foods such as beans and broccoli.

Third, you may wish to consult a gastroenterologist to find out if you could have lactose intolerance or celiac disease.

If you are unable to digest milk sugar or gluten, you will have to modify your diet. Pills that contain the enzyme lactase could help with gas-induced lactose intolerance.

To learn more about what causes flatulence and lots of other strategies to get rid of gas, you may want to consult our eGuide to Overcoming Digestive Disorders.

This electronic resource can be found in the Health eGuides section of peoplespharmacy.com.

In their column, Joe and Teresa Graedon answer letters from readers. Write to them in care of King Features, 628 Virginia Drive, Orlando, FL 32803, or email them via their website peoplespharmacy.com.

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