Hand hygiene recommendations during COVID-19

December 4, 2020
Morgan Petronelli, Associate Editor

The American Contact Dermatitis Society has published hand hygiene recommendations during the COVID-19 pandemic in recognition of National Hand Washing Awareness Week in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology.

In recognition of National Hand Washing Awareness Week, the Journal of American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) has published hand hygiene recommendations during the COVID-19 pandemic from the American Contact Dermatitis Society (ACDS).

Proper hand hygiene is essential to preventing COVID-19 infection, but sometimes the products we use might alter our skin barrier function and integrity, according to an article published by AAD.1

With infections rising, the ACDS expects to see a surge in allergic contact and irritant contact hand dermatitis among both health care workers and the public. The organization recommends utilizing alcohol-based hand sanitizers (ABHS) with moisturizers as they are less irritating than synthetic detergents and soap.

MORE: Pandemic lessons

ACDS recommendations for proper hand hygiene when using soaps and synthetic detergents include avoiding hot or very cold water, pat drying, washing hands in cool or lukewarm water with soap for a minimum of 20 seconds and apply moisturizer immediately after hand washing. The organization also suggests being on the lookout for synthetic detergents with added moisturizers and products without allergenic surfactants, preservatives, dyes or fragrances.

When it comes to using ABHS, it is recommended to use products containing at least 60% alcohol, added moisturizers and devoid of allergenic surfactants, preservatives, dyes or fragrances.

As for moisturizers, the ACDS suggests staying away from moisturizer products packaged in jars due to the potential of contaminating the product from double-dipping and use moisturizers in tubes instead. Also, it is recommended health care workers apply a water-based moisturizer under gloves. To ensure proper moisturization, the ACDS says to apply moisturizer at night followed by cotton or loose plastic gloves that will create an occlusive barrier, as well as soak the hands in plain water for 20 minutes and then immediately apply moisturizer to damp skin nightly for up to 2 weeks.

More recommendations for proper hand hygiene can be found at jaad.org.

Reference:

Rundle CW, Presley CL, Militello M, et al. Hand hygiene during covid-19: recommendations from the american contact dermatitis society. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. 2020;83(6):1730-1737.