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Ethanol topical

Generic name: ethanol topical [ ETH-a-nol-TOP-i-kal ]
Brand names: Denatured Alcohol, Nozin, Nozin POPswab, Lavacol, Alcare Plus, Instant Hand Sanitizer
Dosage forms: topical liquid (70%; 95%), topical swab (62%)
Drug class: Antiseptic and germicides

Medically reviewed by on Aug 9, 2023. Written by Cerner Multum.

What is ethanol topical?

Ethanol (sometimes called rubbing alcohol) is an antiseptic that decreases bacteria on surfaces.

Ethanol topical (for use on skin) is used to help reduce the risk of Staph infection on the skin or around the nose.

Ethanol topical does not contain an antibiotic and should not be used in place of any other medications your doctor has prescribed.

Ethanol topical may also be used for purposes not listed in this medication guide.

Ethanol topical side effects

Get emergency medical help if you have signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficult breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Less serious side effects may be more likely, and you may have none at all.

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.


Follow all directions on your medicine label and package. Tell each of your healthcare providers about all your medical conditions, allergies, and all medicines you use.

Before taking this medicine

You should not use ethanol topical if you are allergic to it.

You should not use ethanol topical in or around your nose if you have nasal bleeding or irritation.

Ask a doctor or pharmacist if ethanol topical is safe to use if you have ever had an allergy to foods or medicines.

Ask a doctor before using this medicine if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. If you apply ethanol topical to your chest, avoid areas that may come into contact with the baby's mouth.

Do not use this medicine on a child younger than 2 years old without medical advice.

How should I use ethanol topical?

Follow all directions on your prescription label and read all medication guides or instruction sheets. Use the medicine exactly as directed.

Shake the Nozin bottle before each use. Do not touch the bottle tip to your nose or skin. Instead, drop the medicine onto a cotton swab and apply the medicine using the swab.

Apply this medicine only to the skin just inside your nostril. Do not place the a swab into your nose beyond swab tip.

Each Nozin POPswab is for one use only. Throw the swab away after one use.

Read and carefully follow any Instructions for Use provided with your medicine. Ask your doctor or pharmacist if you do not understand these instructions.

Do not allow a child under 12 to use ethanol topical without help from an adult.

Store at cool room temperature away from moisture and heat.

Ethanol topical is flammable. Do not use near high heat or open flame. Do not smoke until the medicine has completely dried on your skin.

What happens if I miss a dose?

Since ethanol topical is used when needed, you may not be on a dosing schedule. Skip any missed dose if it's almost time for your next dose. Do not use two doses at one time.

What happens if I overdose?

An overdose of ethanol topical is not expected to be dangerous. Seek emergency medical attention or call the Poison Help line at 1-800-222-1222 if anyone has accidentally swallowed the medication.

What should I avoid while using ethanol topical?

Avoid getting ethanol topical in your eyes or deep inside your nose.

What other drugs will affect ethanol topical?

Medicine used on the skin is not likely to be affected by other drugs you use. But many drugs can interact with each other. Tell each of your healthcare providers about all medicines you use, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products.

Further information

Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use this medication only for the indication prescribed.

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.