Greater prevalence of hand eczema among health care professionals working in COVID-19 units linked to increased hand sanitation habits.
As COVID-19 began to spread worldwide in 2020, the importance of proper hygiene and frequent handwashing was emphasized to inhibit infection rates. However, as a result of this increased emphasis on hand hygiene, dermatologic conditions became more common, specifically among health care workers who frequently wash their hands.
According to a study published online in the Journal of Education, Health and Sport, the rates of hand eczema among health care workers spiked during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The prevalence of hand eczema among health care professionals working in COVID-19 units has grown, and it has been linked to increased hand sanitation habits,” the study authors wrote.
Because of the significantly greater attention on hand hygiene during the pandemic—specifically among health care workers—the study authors sought to evaluate how some hygiene products impacted hand eczema rates. The study was conducted by the Military Medical Academy Memorial Teaching Hospital of the Medical University of Lodz in Poland.
“The purpose of the study was to examine the prevalence of hand eczema as a consequence of more intensive hand hygiene among health care workers during COVID-19 pandemic,” the study authors wrote.
The investigators performed searches in databases such as PubMed and Google Scholar for keywords such as hand eczema, hand dermatitis, SARS-CoV-2, atopic dermatitis, and COVID-19. The data show that health care workers had developed increased rates of hand eczema during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The study authors said that the risk for hand eczema was greater during the pandemic because of factors that included the common use of alcohol-based hand sanitizers, glove use, hand hygiene product use, prior history of atopic dermatitis, and being of the female sex.
“Findings demonstrated positive correlation between hand eczema prevalence among healthcare professionals and COVID-19 pandemic,” the study authors wrote.
The investigators noted that the excessive hand hygiene practices eroded the hand’s natural skin barrier function, which subsequently caused hand eczema.
The study authors also noted that using preventative skincare products may help to lower the risk for hand eczema. They cited commonly used products for eczema prevention, such as moisturizing creams; however, the study authors did not outline the specifics of which interventions work best.
“Hand washing and the use of disinfectants disrupt the natural skin barrier function, leading to allergic and irritating hand eczema,” the study authors concluded. “In order to continue practicing hand hygiene during the continuing pandemic, proper prevention strategies and education should be implemented.”
SROCZYŃSKA, Monika, LUCHOWSKA, Anna & ŻACZEK, Aleksandra. Hand eczema prevalence among healthcare workers during COVID-19 pandemic – a systematic review. Journal of Education, Health and Sport [online]. 23 December 2022, T. 13, nr 2, s. 136–141. [accessed 4.1.2023]. DOI 10.12775/JEHS.2023.13.02.019.