Mariecar Jara-Puyod, Senior Reporter
While it is expected that hand washing is a norm, doing so has become more instilled since 2020 due to the entry of the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) and a consultant dermatologist has cautioned, having co-related dry hands and a skin disease, with intense hand hygiene routines, including the excessive use of hand sanitisers.
“It is ideal to use moisturiser after washing (your) hands to help prevent the onset of dermatitis,” Dr. Anwar Al Hammadi, also a Dermatology associate professor at the Mohammed Bin Rashid University of Medicine and Health Sciences at the Dubai Healthcare City, said.
Also interviewed, Al Noor Hospital (Abu Dhabi) consultant dermatologist Dr. Hussein Abdel Dayem said eczema, which cuts across all nationalities, with a prevalence rate of 20 and 25 per cent among boys and girls as well as up to 10 per cent in men and women, is an “inflammatory medical” multi-factorial skin condition, leading to lesions since one cannot help but scratch the intense itchiness: “The severe, continuous itching and scratching is a hallmark of the disease and affects the duration and quality of sleep with frequent awaking during the night and difficulty in falling asleep again.”
“This disturbed sleep pattern has a negative impact on the patient’s quality of life, performance at work or school,” he also said, adding that due to sleeplessness, one frequently absents and may suffer from mental health challenges, namely anxiety and depression. He also has almost zero social life.
On hand washing, dry hands, Atopic Dermatitis and Contact or Hand Dermatitis, Al Hammadi said: “First of all, there are different forms of dermatitis, the most common being “Atopic Dermatitis (eczema) which is seen usually during childhood. We have also what we call ‘Seborrheic Dermatitis usually seen in newborn babies who grow out of it between the ages of six or seven months. Another type of dermatitis is ‘Contact or Hand Dermatitis’ usually seen with Atopic Dermatitis usually aggravated by people who use any kind of soap or detergent that can irritate their hands. Which is why we can see it in those who excessively use detergents. There is no doubt that during COVID-19, there was an excessive use of hand sanitiser and the rates of hand washing have also increased. We (have seen) more and more cases of ‘Contact or Hand Dermatitis.’ This could be in the patients who are prone to dermatitis or who are known for Atopic Dermatitis or even in patients who do not have Atopic Dermatitis.”
He continued: “The cases of (Hand Dermatitis) remarkably increased during the period of COVID-19. This led to an increase of hand sanitisers that are more pleasant on the skin and include Vitamin E and other moisturisers to prevent further irritation for those who are prone to eczema and other forms of dermatitis. Contact Dermatitis remarkably increased during COVID-19 especially for those who began to obsessively wash their hands. For those who have bad dermatitis, we recommend they just wash their hands.”
“It is important to note that even if you are just washing your hands with water, your hands do not stay moisturised which can elevate the skin and cause more dryness which further lead to the onset of dermatitis. It is ideal to use moisturiser after (hand washing) to help prevent the onset of dermatitis,” Al Hammadi also said.
Advanced tailor-made therapies are now available for eczema patients, according to both specialists.
Dayem said: “Older systemic drugs were usually used to control the flares and cannot be used for long periods because of the long-term side effects after prolonged use of these medicines and the need for frequent laboratory tests to monitor the side effects of the long-term use of these medications.”
He mentioned “targeted therapy” as the novel way to treat this skin disease that “can be used continuously to avoid flares and to control skin inflammation continuously.”
Al Hammadi said: “Nowadays, we have what we call, approved systemic medications that help treat moderate-to-severe cases that are not responding to conventional therapy (which) have a high safety profile. (These) make us a lot more confident in the recovery of our patients.”
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