When to Call Your Dermatologist About Hand Dermatitis

When to Call Your Dermatologist About Hand Dermatitis featured image
Photo Credit: Westend61 / Getty Images

If you’re being compliant with washing and sanitizing your hands during the COVID-19 pandemic, chances are, they’re pretty dry, cracked and downright not in their normal state by now.

Omaha, NE dermatologist Joel Schlessinger, MD even goes so far to call dry hands—and their close companion of dermatitis and eczema, characterized as more serious irritations that often can’t be treated with a simple moisturizer—the “one constant” during the current state of events. 

He and his nursing staff—who dutifully have to wash their hands on the regular as part of their jobs—swear by FixMySkin 1% Hydrocortisone Healing Balm ($16), a blend of essential oils in a stick form that Dr. Schlessinger and his son created.

“Additionally, a wonderful barrier cream we love is the Epionce Enriched Body Cream ($41). It works well over the balm to help protect and repair the damage that happens when washing is essential. Most of my nurses use this combination religiously.”

San Antonio dermatologist Vivian Bucay, MD is also a fan of over-the-counter 1% hydrocortisone cream, combined with either Aquaphor ointment (if you don’t have an allergy to lanolin) or Vaseline—she even recommends the mix on irritated facial skin, which she’s been seeing more of as people wear medical masks during this time.

“The idea is to help restore the skin barrier and decrease inflammation,” she says. 

“Right now, going to the emergency room for something like this is not recommended,” stresses Germantown, TN dermatologist Purvisha Patel, MD. “But hand dermatitis is becoming really common with the extra handwashing and hand sanitizer. If the rash persists after using over-the-counter methods, if you have fissuring or bleeding that is not healing, if you are not able to use your hands, or if you have oozing or swelling, it’s time to consult your dermatologist.”

“Setting up a telederm consultation is easier now more than ever,” she adds. “Let your dermatologist take a look and prescribe the best medication and treatment plan for you.” 

Fort Lauderdale, FL dermatologist Dr. Matthew J. Elias also contends that some cases of hand dermatitis are no joke, and require doctor intervention. “If it’s itching, painful, dry or cracked, it’s time to fire up the telederm portal and reach out to your board-certified dermatologist for the best treatment regimen to keep your hands in tip-top shape.”

While Washington, D.C. dermatologist Tina S. Alster, MD isn’t set up for teledermatology per se, she says she is routinely dealing with patients sending her photos and a written history via email, which she can still help treat from home. 

“From there, I can make recommendations and call in prescriptions as needed,” she says.

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