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Tips for reducing the impact of handwashing on psoriasis

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Helen McAteer

Chief Executive, Psoriasis Association

Psoriasis on the hands can be painful and irritating and can make day-to-day tasks more difficult.

Psoriasis is an immune-condition which affects between approximately 2-3% of the UK population and causes raised ‘plaques’ to form on the skin, which can also be flaky, scaly and red on Caucasian skin, darker patches on darker skin tones, and itchy. Psoriasis can occur anywhere on the body and as well as being painful and uncomfortable, people with psoriasis often suffer with low confidence and self-esteem. In turn, this can impact on relationships and social lives.

How handwashing impacts psoriasis

Early in the pandemic, the UK population were advised to adopt regular handwashing or hand sanitising as a preventative measure against spreading COVID-19. This remains important as we begin to return to some of our day-to-day activities.

Psoriasis can affect the hands and nails, for many people with symptoms in this area frequent handwashing can worsen symptoms or, in some cases, may trigger new patches of psoriasis to occur. Psoriasis on the hands can be distressing because it is very visible and can be painful, irritating and make it difficult to carry out everyday tasks.

Psoriasis is an immune condition which affects between approximately 2-3% of the UK population and causes raised ‘plaques’ to form on the skin.

There are steps you can take to reduce the impact of handwashing on psoriasis such as:

  • Wash hands with soap and water, then re-wash with an emollient soap substitute. Emollient soap substitutes are more moisturising than regular soap and can be helpful to prevent the skin from drying or cracking. To use them you should mix a small amount in your hand with a little warm water and spread it over damp or dry skin.
  • Dry your hands gently and moisturise them afterwards using your preferred emollient. It may be a good idea to keep tubes of moisturiser by the sink at home, as well as in your handbag or pocket for when you are out. Ask your GP or pharmacist for advice if you need help selecting a suitable emollient.
  • Apply moisturiser to the hands before bed and then wear cotton gloves overnight. Cotton is a ‘breathable’ fabric and gloves made with the material can help moisturiser to penetrate the skin and work more effectively.
  • Use plastic or rubber gloves with cotton linings when doing the washing up or hand washing clothes, this will help to prevent unnecessary drying resulting from activities other than washing your hands.
  • Wearing rings, watches and other jewellery may aggravate your skin if your psoriasis is already sore from handwashing. Try removing your jewellery for a few days and see what effect (if any) this has.

For more information about COVID-19 and psoriasis, including tips for managing your skin and staying well, please visit the Psoriasis Association website at www.psoriasis-association.org.uk

If you have psoriasis, please also consider taking part in the PsoProtectMe survey at psoprotectme.org a survey to support vital research into COVID-19 and psoriasis.

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