NHS Western Isles' Dermatology Nurse Angela Woodley has issued some top tips for the public to keep their hands healthy in response to COVID-19.

With people washing their hands more than they ever have before, many of us will experience symptoms of dermatitis, manifesting in dry, chapped, itchy and swollen skin on our hands which can be very painful.

However, following some basic and practical advice can go a long way to ensuring we are able to keep hands clean - in line with national guidance – while also maintaining good hand health along the way.

Here’s some top tips for following guidance, treating dermatitis and mitigating the chances of it occurring:

  • Always wet your hands before applying soap.
  • Wash hands regularly with soap, paying attention to areas between the fingers and around the nails, for 20 seconds. Rinse and dry thoroughly.
  • Apply moisturisers after drying your hands. These should be fragrance-free. Use a greasier moisturiser at bedtime under cotton gloves (or socks) if hands are particularly chapped.
  • Avoid any wet work if your skin is very dry or splitting.
  • Try to wear gloves for household chores.
  • Avoid unnecessary tasks that add extra stress to the hands eg. use of bleach, painting and decorating, gardening, car washing etc.
  • Mild topical steroids can be purchased over the counter from community pharmacies and can be useful if skin itchy or inflamed. Use twice a day for a week whilst adhering to good hand care rules. 

Angela Woodley said “While it’s crucial for us all to be washing our hands more often, as a result, many of us will also have experienced symptoms of dermatitis such as dry, itchy skin, rashes and swelling.

“This change occurs due to skin being irritated by cleaning products such hand sanitiser and soap, and even water. It can be quite painful if untreated so following these basic but effective tips will help minimise any irritation, and help your keep your hands healthy throughout COVID-19.”​