Skin damage and the risk of infection among healthcare workers managing coronavirus disease-2019. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology.
Covid‐19: Countermeasure for N95 mask‐induced pressure sore. Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology.
Reviewed by Dr Koh Yun Pei, Senior Resident, National Skin Centre, Singapore.
In the first paper, Lan et al surveyed 542 physicians and nurses directly involved in the care of patients with COVID19 in isolation wards and fever clinics in a tertiary hospital in Hubei province, China. Almost all (97%, 526 out of 542) healthcare workers surveyed reported some form of skin damage, with nasal bridge skin injury being of highest prevalence (83.1%) followed by skin xerosis (70.3%) and skin desquamation (62.2%). Prolonged wearing of the N95 mask (defined as over 6 hours a day) was associated with a higher risk of associated skin damage.
In his letter, Yin introduced a quick and accessible method to protect facial skin from prolonged use of the N95 mask, which would come in handy in daily practice. This entails the application of a benzalkonium chloride patch followed by a hydrocolloid dressing to the pressure sore or area at risk, prior to wearing the N95 mask.
Since the arrival of COVID19 in Singapore, friends and colleagues have selflessly stepped up to confront this unprecedented challenge. Many of them remain at the frontlines as part of ongoing efforts to contain the spread of the SARS-CoV2. They are at risk of developing work-related dermatoses. As dermatologists, we are uniquely positioned to deal with this new and emerging dimension of occupational skin health. These research letters highlight the need for appropriate working hours or breaks for frontline healthcare workers and the introduction of prophylactic dressings for pressure-related skin injuries.