Two days ago, I was helping out the geothermal department in our company and spilled a bunch of methanol all over my arms and hands. I also spilled some on my clothes and wasn't able to change out of them until the end of the day. After finishing the task, I was finally able to wash my hands and arms with soap and water (about 15-20 minutes later).

Is there any cause for concern? I always understood that ingestion of methanol was bad but the MSDS label on the container seems to indicate skin contact may be just as bad. I just assumed most of it evaporated on contact and that the dermal absorption was negligable. I also made sure to have a few drinks that night because I remembered a chemistry professor saying ethanol acts as a competitive inhibitor. Any thoughts on the matter would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

You should be fine since the amount of methanol you will have absorbed through your skin will be limited. Your actions in terms of washing was sensible. As to the drinks that evening - nice idea but not sure it will have contributed much either way!

The idea behind treating methanol intoxication with ethanol is to prevent the oxidation of methanol to formaldehyde and formic acid - toxic compounds involved in methanol poisoning. As David says the amount of methanol you absorbed is likely very limited. Did you take into account the ethanol content of your drinks!!!

I am rather alarmed that you were even in a position to be handling methanol in quantities, and in a manner, sufficient to spill all over yourself, and that the company you are working for was clearly not adhering to COSHH statements or SOPs for its handling. Any sort of spill such as this should also be reported in an accident book.

If the same thing happened in my labs, where we also handle large volumes of methanol (amongst other very nasties) someone would be for the high jump.