It’s serious. And for some, it may be deadly serious. 

With the number of novel coronavirus (nCoV) (COVID-19)) cases here in Australia continuing to climb on a daily basis, it is time to get informed and get the facts on how to protect yourself and your skin.  

Click here for the World Health Organisation’s general Q&A on coronavirus. Keep reading if you are interested in a skin-related Q&A on coronavirus

With more frequent and vigorous hand-washing, is my skin going to be affected?

With more frequent hand washing your skin is going to be more likely to get dry, cracked, irritated and itchy. People with eczema have a higher chance of this developing these symptoms and flares of eczema can occur when you are washing your hands more regularly.

How can I protect my skin whilst washing my hands more often than usual?

  1. The first step is to avoid things that irritate the skin. Water, soap, chemicals, sweat and dirt are some of the things that can irritate skin. To avoid excessive contact with water, try to use alcohol based sanitisers if your hands are not soiled. After you wash, be sure to dry properly between your fingers with a paper towel/cloth.
  2.  It is also important to use a soap-free wash if hands are visibly soiled. There are many examples on the market including QV, cetaphil, dermal, ceraVe and more!
  3. It is important to ensure you are using moisturiser after you wash your hands (after each wash). Moisturisers that contain ceramides (lipids that moisturise the skin) and are nice and thick are going to be best. Examples include Lipikar, CeraVe, Cetaphil and QV cream (there are others out there too). Just pick something nice and thick and greasy.

It is also important get on top of any hand dermatitis (if you are prone to eczema) with your prescribed topical treatments (like your topical steroids) as soon as you see signs of eczema. If you are unsure, see your local GP or speak to your friendly dermatologist. Chroma Dermatology can organise to see and treat you quickly for your hand dermatitis if required. Just give our friendly receptionists a call.

Are antibacterial gels , wipes and lotions as good as hand-washing?

Coronavirus (and indeed most viruses) is a nanoparticle. Its weakest link is the fatty (lipid) bilayer which is actually the virus’ outer protective layer that enables it to spread and invade its host (humans and animals in the case of coronavirus). 

Soap dissolves the fat membrane of the virus causing it to become inactive. While antibacterial wipes/gels/liquids contain alcohol (and some soaps) and are helpful they are not as effective as good, properly performed hand-washing with soap. 

If you are unable to wash your hands with soap and water, using antibacterial gels, lotions or wipes is a good idea.

So does washing your hands properly really mean?

Generally 20-30 seconds of scrubbing your hands after you have lathered up the soap on them. And yes, that’s a lot of scrubbing. But viruses like coronoavirus can cling-on for dear life. Check out this link from the centre of communicable diseases to learn how to do it right.

I have an autoimmune skin disease (vitiligo, lupus, bullous pemphigoid are some examples of this). Am I at increased risk of catching the coronavirus?

Those who have autoimmune skin conditions like vitiligo are not considered ‘immunosuppressed’ (low or compromised immune system). In fact, it is more like the immune system is hyperactive in such cases. However, if you are on medicines that suppress your immune system, you may wish to discuss this with your treating doctor.

The information contained in this blog post is intended as a guide only and should not substitute seeking medical attention.

Chroma Dermatology take the health and safety of our patients, staff and the community seriously. Nearly one month ago we displayed visual patient alerts in our clinic. Two-weeks ago we implemented our screening process before consultations and for the last week we have had no toys or reading material in our waiting room and have pre-screened patients by text/phone call and again upon arrival at our centre. We believe the health and safety of our loved ones and our community is everyone’s responsibility.2.