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Keeping your skin healthy while protecting yourself from COVID-19

With frequent handwashing and face coverings or facemasks being two important means of protecting yourselves and others from COVID-19, you may be noticing that these are taking serious a serious toll on your skin. Tufts Medical Center Chief of Dermatology, Clarissa Yang, MD, provides some helpful information on common skincare experiences that will help you look and feel your best while staying safe. 

Irritated skin from face coverings 

If you are someone who frequently experiences acne or breakouts around your chin, nose, or mouth, you may find that your facemask is making this problem worse. “If the mask is causing an acne flare, consider washing with an anti-microbial cleanser before putting on the mask” says Dr. Yang. 

If you have a fabric mask, wash it each day with detergent to keep the mask clean of bacteria. Use masks made of cotton if possible. This makes it easier for your skin to breath and is less likely to irritate your skin. If your mask cannot be washed, only use it for one day them dispose of it. Skip the makeup if possible as this can cause further irritation. Most of your skin is hidden when you’re wearing the mask and your skin will appreciate the break! 

If you are someone who wears a mask most days for long periods of time, you may be experiencing sores behind your ears or on your nasal bridge. Putting on a barrier such as Vaseline or even dressings in those areas can be helpful. Alternatively, there are headbands with sewn on buttons that are used to hold the mask rather than their ears.

Dry, cracked, or painful hands from frequent handwashing

Frequent hand washing with soap and water and using alcohol-based sanitizer is an important component of combatting COVID-19 to keep your hands clean of any other germs that they may come in contact with. Because of this, you may be experiencing particularly dry hands and cracked skin on your hands. “When you wash your hands so frequently, it strips your skin of natural oils and can make your skin very dry and cracked,” says Dr. Yang. “It is important to moisturize after each hand washing to prevent skin breakdown since the skin is your best barrier against germs and the environment."

Use gentle hand soaps and creams that are fragrance-free to lessen the risk of irritation. For very dry skin, apply a generous amount of cream or even ointment to your hands and put on cotton gloves before bedtime. This will allow the emollient to soak into your skin and improve the healing. 

Learn more about the Department of Dermatology at