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Dermatitis during COVID-19: Hand washing and face coverings

The government guidance for reducing the spread of coronavirus is to wash hands regularly with soap and water, use a face covering when in enclosed spaces and keep your distance from others. For those living with atopic eczema, the increased handwashing and wearing a face covering can exacerbate eczema symptoms.

Follow our tips below to help manage your eczema and prevent your skin becoming dry and cracked.

Tips for preventing dermatitis of the hands

  1. Unfortunately, emollient based soap substitutes are not effective against COVID 19 –
    1. Wash your hands with soap and water
    2. Rinse well to remove soap particles
    3. Immediately apply an emollient to your hands to prevent irritation occurring
    4. Pat dry hands after washing to prevent friction and further damage to the skin
  2. Minimise contact with any known allergens or irritants
  3. Use an emollient or moisturising cream on your hands daily, especially before going to bed at night
  4. Minimise contact with irritants - protect your hands by wearing gloves when washing up, using cleaning products or handling irritants
  5. Remember to remove your gloves as soon as possible after completing the task, as sweating can irritate the hands – if protective gloves need to be worn for long periods, a thin material liner glove should be used to minimise the risk of irritation
  6. Contact your pharmacist or GP if your hand dermatitis becomes persistent or troublesome

Follow our tips below to prevent dermatitis of the face.

  1. Apply moisturiser before putting on your facemask this will help act as a barrier to sensitive skin
  2. Choose a cotton mask, as this is a breathable fabric and less likely to irritate sensitive skin than other synthetic materials.
  3. Choose the right fitting mask, not too tight that it causes marking or irritation, but not so loose that it slips down or does not create a seal between the nose and skin. Consider a mask that ties at the back of the head as opposed to ear loops if the ear area is sensitive.
  4. If possible, take a break from wearing your mask at regular intervals during the day
  5. Wash your hands and face in lukewarm water when you take your mask off to help remove any irritants from the skin (such as make-up, sweat and pollution), and re-apply your moisturiser afterwards

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