Many nurses working in immunodeficiency, who already have excellent hand hygiene practices, will have had to undertake even more frequent and thorough hand hygiene during the COVID pandemic.

Irritant contact dermatitis, is common among healthcare workers and is caused by the frequent and repeated use of hand hygiene products such as soaps, other detergents, and paper towel use, which can dry the skin.

Factors that may contribute to dermatitis (skin irritation)

  • Washing hands regularly with soap and water immediately before or after using an alcohol-based handrub.
  • Use of soaps and products containing fragrances and preservatives.
  • Donning gloves while hands are still wet from either handwashing or applying alcohol-based handrub.
  • Using hot water for handwashing.
  • Failure to use moisturisers.

Tips to reduce skin irritation

  • Use fragrance-free hand soap.
  • Use a soap-free wash where possible if you’re sensitive to soap.
  • Pat your hands dry rather than rubbing them — but dry them thoroughly.
  • Wear gloves when cleaning and sanitising surfaces to avoid exposure to skin irritants.
  • Regularly apply an oil-containing lotion or barrier cream to your skin after washing.

Alcohol-based hand sanitiser will reduce your skin’s contact with water and therefore lower your risk of dermatitis (skin irritation).

Alcohol-based handrub produces the lowest incidence of irritant contact dermatitis of all the hand hygiene products currently available.