As a result of the COVID-19 outbreak, parents have become even more vigilant about ensuring their children wash their hands regularly. And rightly so. The advice is unanimous that hand washing is a key strategy in helping prevent the spread of the virus. However, it is not without its drawbacks—an increasing number of children are suffering from skin problems as a direct consequence of frequent handwashing. One of the more common problems is hand eczema. Prior to the pandemic, it was estimated that around 10-15% of people were affected, but a recent survey by the British Skin Foundation suggests it could now be affecting almost 1 in 4 children.
Tips to help manage dry skin from hand washing
Children are not the only ones being affected by the drawbacks of frequent hand washing. In a recent survey of healthcare workers, it was found that hand washing frequency had more than doubled because of the COVID-19 pandemic and more than 80% of healthcare workers surveyed reported dryness. Redness, itch, burning and other issues were also common. To address this issue, experts have released tips and guidelines to help curb the problems. Since we’re all washing our hands more often, these tips are useful for all of us.[5,6]
1. Don’t stop washing hands (or using an alcohol-based hand sanitiser when a cleanser and water are not available) – we must continue washing our hands frequently and encouraging our children to do the same to help prevent the spread of COVID-19
2. Use soap-free cleansers over harsh soaps – soap-free cleansers are much gentler on skin and are pH balanced to avoid disrupting the skin’s natural pH. QV Gentle Wash, for instance, is a pH balanced, soap-free, fragrance-free cleanser that is gentle on irritated skin and suitable for use with dry skin conditions such as eczema.
3. Use warm, not hot, water – frequent use of hot water can strip the skin of natural moisturising oils, causing hands to dry out faster.
4. Ensure hands are properly dried – wet hands can make it more likely for germs to grow and spread and increase irritation caused by friction.
5. Use moisturisers after drying hands – a fragrance-free moisturiser helps counter the drying effect of frequent washing. During the day, a light moisturising lotion, like QV Skin Lotion, is ideal. It’s non-greasy and quickly absorbed, making it ideal for routine use. For drier skin, QV Cream is a richer, more concentrated moisturiser that provides 24h hydration. For children with extremely dry skin, try QV Intensive Ointment at night, which is water-free so it won’t sting when used on cracked skin.
All QV moisturisers are fragrance-free and suitable for sensitive skin and dry skin conditions such as eczema.
1. Alzyood M, Jackson D, Aveyard H, Brooke J. COVID‐19 reinforces the importance of handwashing. J Clin Nurs [Internet] 2020 [cited 2020 Aug 21];Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7267118/
2. Oakley A. Hand dermatitis [Internet]. DermNet NZ2018 [cited 2020 Aug 19];Available from: https://dermnetnz.org/topics/hand-dermatitis/
3. Over half of British children are suffering with skin problems due to frequent handwashing [Internet]. British Skin Foundation2020 [cited 2020 Aug 12];Available from: https://www.britishskinfoundation.org.uk/news/over-half-of-british-children-are-suffering-with-skin-problems-due-to-frequent-handwashing-and-eczema-rates-are-on-the-rise
4. Guertler A, Moellhoff N, Schenck TL, Hagen CS, Kendziora B, Giunta RE, et al. Onset of occupational hand eczema among healthcare workers during the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic–comparing a single surgical site with a COVID-19 intensive care unit. Contact Dermatitis 2020;
5. Abtahi-Naeini B. Frequent handwashing amidst the COVID-19 outbreak: prevention of hand irritant contact dermatitis and other considerations. Health sci reports 2020;3(2).
6. Balato A, Ayala F, Bruze M, Crepy M-N, Gonçalo M, Duus Johansen J, et al. European Task Force on Contact Dermatitis statement on coronavirus 19 disease (COVID-19) outbreak and the risk of adverse cutaneous reactions. J Eur Acad Dermatol Venereol 2020;