In the early days of the pandemic, we quickly learned that COVID-19 had a unique ability to affect not only the body’s lungs but also the brain, muscles, and even the body’s sense of taste and smell. There was some uncertainty about how the virus would impact the body’s first defense system, the skin. Rashes, such as exanthems, vasculitis, and hives, have long been associated with viral infections. But what kind of impact would infection prevention strategies have on other aspects of our health?
In March 2020, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced the importance of frequent handwashing with soap and water to help prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Shortly after that, hand sanitizer became widely popular. It wasn’t before long that we noticed patients coming in with dry, red, itchy hands. The majority of these patients reported a significant increase in the frequency of their handwashing or use of waterless hand sanitizer throughout the day. Add in Montana’s cold, dry winter air, and we had the perfect recipe for some impressive hand rashes.
While hand dermatitis is much less of a concern than treating a viral infection like COVID-19, hand dermatitis can turn into a serious skin infection if left untreated. Since the importance and frequency of hand washing in today’s world is not likely to fade anytime soon, here are a few tips to help curb the effects of frequent hand washing and sanitizing: