Ways to combat skin problems created by over-washing hands, face masks

NORTH PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- The skin is the biggest organ in the human body. And people have an endless variety of problems with it - especially right now.

A Temple Health expert has tips to save your skin, including some old favorites.

Frequent hand-washing to fight COVID-19 is creating some unhappy skin.

"A lot of people complain that their hands are getting dry and cracked and they're bleeding because they're just overwashing," says Dr. Sylvia Hsu, a Temple Health dermatologist.

Dr. Hsu says water removes bacteria and viruses but draws moisture out of the skin. You need moisturizers, and the greasier the better.

"Anything that comes in a tub is better than something that comes in a pump bottle, because anything that comes in a pump bottle is a lotion, and lotions just aren't moisturizing enough," says Dr. Hsu.

She says old-fashioned petroleum jelly is the best because it has no additives, so no one's allergic to it.

"I always tell people, at least put it on the backs of your hands because usually, you don't have a problem with the palms," she says.

Eczema can be a common year-round skin problem.

Dr. Hsu says when topical treatments aren't enough, she prescribes the drug Dupixent, which can turn off inflammation.

"It's the only biologic drug that we have approved for eczema and atopic dermatitis. And it's been life-changing for many people," she says.

For decades, doctors thought of psoriasis as a skin disease.

Now they know it's often linked to a much deeper issue called metabolic syndrome, which can raise the risk of high blood pressure, diabetes, heart attacks and stroke.

"We have so many options now for psoriasis, it's just unbelievable," she notes.

Dr. Hsu says facial masks are also causing problems for some patients.

She says if there's a rash from direct contact, over-the-counter hydrocortisone helps.

If perspiration is causing bumps or pimples, try adapalene, another over-the-counter product.
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