Rashes Or Eczema? It's Probably Your Sanitiser

Rashes Or Eczema? It's Probably Your Sanitiser

New Delhi, 22 June 2020:


The sanitiser and the hand wash became mainstays of daily lives when the Covid-19 outbreak began. But excessive caution has led to another problem — skin problem. Doctors across NCR say cases of allergies, rashes and contact dermatitis have gone up because of overuse of sanitiser and soap.


“Given that the infection is expected to spread more quickly, the Union health ministry and the Indian Council of Medical Research have issued guidelines . That includes washing hands and using sanitisers. But overdoing both is leading to skin problems,” said Dr Vidushi Jain, an Indirapuram-based dermatologist and cosmetic expert. “Frequent hand washing and using sanitisers are the main causes of skin rashes and sores between fingers. Vesicular lesion occurs in severe cases. Repeated scrubbing or using sanitisers causes rashes that disturb the skin and this, in turn, increases the risk of allergic reaction and dermatitis.”


That is what dermatologists have been noticing lately. “Overuse of sanitisers has led to more cases of allergies. Most patients are children, followed by women and not so much in men,” said Dr Bhavuk Mittal, senior consultant dermatologist at Columbia Asia Hospital.


He thought it was because children follow instructions easily and vigorously wash hands. Besides, the oil glands on their skin are not well-developed. His advice is that if a child does not step out, washing hands with glycerine-based soap and water is better, every three hours.


With OPDs having limited services these days, doctors are providing online consultations. Mittal said skin allergy cases now form 20-25% of his online consultations, compared to just 2-3% before the outbreak. Dr AK Dixit, senior skin consultant at MMG District Hospital in Ghaziabad said he is seeing 30 to 40 patients with skin allergies a day. “Those with sensitive or dry skin are facing more problems. People coming to the hospital with Covid symptoms are complaining about skin problems as well.”


In Gurgaon, doctors said they had witnessed a rise in eczema cases because of the overuse of sanitisers. “We are seeing a spurt of contact eczema cases because of frequent and prolonged use of antiseptic sanitisers. Even people who are not venturing out are sanitising their hands excessively ... People should limit sanitiser use unless there is repeated exposure to Covid sources. Do not ignore dermatitis caused by sanitisers as just dryness and seek help,” said Dr Sachin Dhawan, senior consultant at the dermatology department in Fortis Memorial Research Institute. “Use powder-free nitrile gloves while going out, when required, so that your hands do not get contaminated and there is no need to use sanitisers directly on the skin. Sanitisers with more than one antiseptic agent and strong fragrance should be avoided because that has a greater chance of causing an allergic reaction.”


The problem might be worse for those with anxiety disorders. “In case of people with obsessive compulsive disorder, who fear the presence of germs on their hands, it is worse. The best way to maintain hygiene is to use tap water and mild soap,” said Dr Mansak Shishak, consultant dermatologist at Indian Spinal Injuries Centre in Vasant Kunj.


“Overuse of sanitisers and hand wash over a prolonged period could bring the hygiene hypothesis into play — leading to atopy and allergies in the next generations,” said Dr Pooja Chopra, dermatology consultant at Aakash Healthcare and Super Speciality Hospitals in Dwarka.


Doctors recommended the use of moisturisers. “In case of mild dryness and itch, a hydrocortisone 1% cream should be applied with the moisturiser,” said Dr Nandini Baruah, cosmetic dermatologist at Paras Hospital in Gurgaon. The Times Of India