Skin (COVID-19)

Warning
Skin health during COVID-19 a reminder

We’re all being asked to wash our hands more frequently, or use alcohol gel. This a vital measure to help reduce our risk of COVID-19 exposure.

We can be forgiven for overlooking our skin health, because there are so many other pressing issues to deal with. Nevertheless, repeated hand-cleansing brings with it a risk of dry skin/irritant dermatitis or a flare-up of eczema. You may have been troubled with this in the past, or it may arise due to current circumstances.

If you develop dry skin/dermatitis there is a risk of breaks in your skin integrity that may have implications for infection control and indeed to your ability to perform your role, even more so if your hands are sore. There’s also a risk that eczema will flare elsewhere on your face or body. You can’t and shouldn’t avoid cleaning hands, but you can take some simple steps to reduce your risk of developing skin problems.

  • When hands are physically clean, but you have come into contact with surfaces etc please use alcohol gel rub where possible rather than soap and water. Apply moisturiser after washing, where available and when you are at home.
  • Try and protect your hands at home for tasks that involve contact with water e.g. washing dishes.
  • Glove use; especially for those caring for patients, is vitally important, but keep them on for the minimum amount of time you can.
  • Ensure gloves are the right fit; don’t use gloves that are too small for you. Pressure/friction can increase your risk of skin problems. At this time of great need, seemingly little things like skin health/integrity might seem irrelevant or a distraction, but please remember your ability to perform your role and feel well in yourself might depend on maintaining good skin health. If you only do one thing: Have a greasy emollient at your bedside and put plenty onto your hands just before you go to sleep.
Note re Dermol 500 lotion
  • Dermol 500 lotion is the formulary choice for patients with eczema needing an antiseptic emollient that can be used as a wash.
  • It should be noted however that Dermol 500 lotion is considered to be ineffective for hand decontamination against COVID-19 virus. Therefore, for use in clinical areas, Dermol 500 is being phased out and replaced by another, more suitable, product for this purpose.   
  • Dermol 500 lotion will continue to be available for patients as per its formulary indication as it is effective in reducing secondary bacterial infections that this patient group is susceptible to.   
  • Patients with eczema should continue to follow government guidance and the information given below from the British association of Dermatologists on hand washing.   

If you are at all worried about your skin health please speak to your manager. You can also contact Occupational Health on nhsh.ohadmin@nhs.scot

British Association of Dermatology (BAD) Guidance: https://www.skinhealthinfo.org.uk/statement-on-coronavirus-and-skin-disease-affecting-the-hands/.

Last reviewed: 01 March 2021

Next review: 01 September 2021

Author(s): Louise MacFarlane

Approved By: NHS Highland Clinical Response Group

Document Id: COVID021