07 Sep Is an eczema crisis brewing in schools?
Over the last few years, we have written extensively regarding hand hygiene. In many of these articles we mention the risk of inflaming eczema or causing dry skin by using incorrect products or mis using the right ones. (Just Google” eczema rise due to hand washing pandemic” and you’ll see what we mean)
Since the Scottish schools have returned, we are seeing more and more cases of eczema and reports of red and irritated skin in children. This is hardly surprising as the current pandemic creates the perfect storm for eczema sufferers.
Everyone is washing their hands more. This in itself is not really a problem. However, depending on the products (and the processes) these increased actions can add up to cause minor issues.
Soap has become a valuable commodity. Prices have increased as have demands and standards. Many organisations are specifying antibacterial soap instead of normal soap. This in itself can mean the soap is more aggressive (but not any more effective). It has also been more difficult to source soap and as schools have struggled to find the usual supplies have often had to resort to ‘what is available’.
Another key factor with soap is that most manufacturers want you to use as much as possible. Liquid soaps can dispense as much as 5ml per dose. Foaming or spray soaps use approx. 0.3-0.5ml of soap per dose, even though it looks more. The foam is easier to spread on the skin and, most importantly, easier to wash off! This is critical for smaller hands and those with sensitive or dry skin.
Again something we keep coming back to. Hand drying is part of the process and not the most critical part (in our opinion). Whether you use hand dryers or paper towels (there are pros and cons to both) it is important that you have washed ALL the soap off before drying them. Leaving traces of soap not only increase the risk of dry skin but also reduce the efficacy (in the long term) of any anti-bac agent being used in anti-bac soap).
Many schools have disconnected hand dryers during the pandemic and supplied paper towels. Paper towels are like micro grades of sandpaper – some are rougher than others but the rule of thumb (excuse the pun), the cheaper the paper the rougher on the skin.
Finally, another feature is a lack of moisturisers being made available, especially in schools. There is a misconception that moisturisers are an expensive luxury. But commercial options (historically used in the engineering industry) are cost-effective and the reality is that moisturisers are used mostly by people who need them and not everyone.
For any school worried about the risks to sensitive skin with the increased need for handwashing, please do get in touch. We can advise and look at cost-effective solutions with you.