Both health care providers and the general public said skin dryness is a major obstacle for consistent hand hygiene practices.
Stringent hand-washing practices and alcohol-based sanitizers used during the COVID-19 pandemic have led to hand dermatitis in more than two-thirds of the population, according to new research.
“This research truly demonstrates the impact of increased hand washing and uptake of alcohol-based rubs on the hand skin health of [health care professionals] and the general public,” said researcher Monisha Madhumita, MD, in a press release. “Moreover, we now know that using [transepidermal water loss] to measure skin barrier function can help us compare the efficacy of various barrier protective measures and discover suitable modifications of hand hygiene practices and products to help prevent hand eczema.”
Hygiene practices have had a significant impact on skin health during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to investigators at Father Muller Medical College in India. The researchers analyzed transepidermal water loss—a parameter for measuring skin barrier function—in 582 people, including 291 health care professionals and 291 healthy individuals from the general population.
The findings suggest that hand dermatitis is now present among 92.6% of health care professionals and 68.7% of the general population, despite only approximately 3% of health care professionals and 2.4% of the general public in the study having reported a prior history of hand dermatitis, according to the researchers. Dryer skin was also found in women and intensive care professionals, who have higher frequency of hand washing and use of alcohol-based hand rubs, according to the study.
“This research shows there is now a skin-disease epidemic within the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Marie-Aleth Richard, MD, a professor at the University Hospital of La Timone, in the press release. “It is promising to see this problem being recognized, and I am excited to see how the dermatology community goes about finding potential solutions to this issue.”
Both health care providers and the general public in the study reported that skin irritation and dryness is the main barrier to the consistent practice of hand hygiene. Specifically, this obstacle was reported by 72.1% of the health care professionals and 50.8% of the healthy volunteers, according to the press release.
“Finding suitable modifications to practices and products that may increase the accessibility of proper hand hygiene is something of vital importance to many in our community,” Madhumita said in the press release.
Hand dermatitis in two thirds of public due to stringent hand hygiene during COVID [news release]. EurekAlert; May 7, 2021. https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2021-05/sc-hdi050621.php. Accessed May 10, 2021.