Hand sanitiser is the latest trend in drinking for underage teens.

Six teenagers in California were in hospital with alcoholic poison after getting drunk on the alcohol in hand sanitiser, it has been reported.

The youngsters discovered a method of using salt and a distillation technique to separate the alcohol from the sanitiser. The finished product was 60 percent proof.

"All it takes is just a few swallows and you have a drunk teenager," said Cyrus Rangan, director of the toxicology bureau for the county public health department and a medical toxicology consultant for Children's Hospital Los Angeles. "There is no question that it is dangerous."

Experts have warned that the fad could become a more widespread problem.

The sanitiser is cheap and the distilled alcohol is potent.

Rangan added: "It is scary that they go to that extent to get a shot of essentially hard liquor."

Local doctors said the six cases were the first they had experienced.

Helen Arbogast, an injury prevention coordinator in the trauma programme at the Children's Hospital Los Angeles said: "Over the years, [teenagers] have ingested all sorts of things.

"Cough syrup had reached a very sexy point where young people were using it. We want to be sure this doesn't take on the same trend."

She suggested that parents buy the foam types of sanitiser as opposed to the liquid form as it can be harder to extract the alcohol from it.

Arbogast added that parents should monitor the liquid like any other liquor or medicine in their homes and watch for the warning signs of intoxication.

"When young people are actively and purposely ingesting it, that is when it becomes a real concern," she said.