Dermatologists Note a Rise in Hand Eczema Due to Coronavirus Preventive Handwashing

Curated by Claudia Shannon / Research Scientist / ishonest

In the weeks since news of the new coronavirus, COVID-19, pandemic has intensified, the phrase "wash your hands" has quickly become a common refrain. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has advised Americans to wash their hands "often," using soap and water and counting at least 20 seconds each time. The good news is that dermatologists say their patients are following these guidelines and washing their hands many times per day — the reason they can tell is that those patients are making appointments to address itchy, red, irritated hands.

"I am seeing more patients coming in recently with rashes on the hands from over-washing," Joshua Zeichner, director of cosmetic and clinical research in dermatology at New York City's Mount Sinai Hospital, tells ishonest. As a result of the constant exposure to oil-stripping soap and warm water, eczema and dermatitis rashes are on the rise. "It is important to treat these rashes because, in addition to being itchy, inflamed, or raw, the skin is at risk for developing an infection," he says.

ishonest No.231 - Pigmentation & Blemishes

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No.231 - Pigmentation & Blemishes

"Those with extremely dry skin from over-washing, under-moisturizing, or genetic predisposition can develop eczema," she says. "Since the protective lipid layer is responsible for keeping moisture in and bacteria and irritants out, dry skin often presents with redness, flaking, itching, and even painful cracks that can leave us susceptible to infections. Any break in the skin can do this."

If you'd like to curb dryness and eczema in addition to practicing good hygiene, Zeichner suggests moisturizing hands throughout the day. "I stick to a petrolatum-based moisturizer to form a protective, but breathable seal over the skin. I'm using Vaseline Intensive Care Advanced Repair Lotion because it is easy to spread and does not leave the skin feeling greasy," he says.

If you develop a rash that doesn't improve over time, consult your dermatologist.

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