We all know that proper hand-washing is one of the best ways to prevent spreading viruses, like influenza and COVID19! Washing our hands and use of sanitisers often can lead to dry and cracked skin, itchiness, pain and possibly infection.
So how can patients with eczema protect their skin while protecting themselves from the coronavirus?
Our professional experience has been that hand-washing is generally better than hand sanitiser, especially when you apply moisturizer right after. Applying moisturizer after each hand-washing can reduce much of the drying effects of hand-washing.
We typically recommend our patients carry a pocket tube of moisturizer that would allow them to apply it anywhere.
Most of the antiseptic washes and antibacterial washes are quite harsh on the skin. In general, the antiseptic chemicals are not needed for proper hand hygiene if you use proper techniques like washing with soap for 20 seconds. At this critical time, you might have only access to this heavy duty chemical! If so then applying moisturizer after each wash can reduce much of the drying effects.
Good integrity of the skin barrier is an important aspect of hand hygiene. People who are prone to having hand eczema (contact dermatitis) or atopic dermatitis flare-ups from using harsh soaps or frequent hand-washing should be proactive and apply moisturizers to help maintain the skin barrier and prevent eczema flare-ups. But, if that is not enough, they may need prescription topical therapy to reduce the inflammation in eczema.
People should always wear gloves when using antiseptic wipes and cleaning products. These can be very harsh upon contact with your skin.
See your GP once the skin eczema becomes out of control and you feel that doesn’t respond to normal moisturisers for further treatment.