Is your PPE Putting your Skin at Risk?

PPE is an essential part of the fight against COVID-19. Any staff member coming within two meters of someone with possible or confirmed COVID-19 should be wearing gloves and a fluid-resistant surgical mask. 

While caring for patients suffering from COVID-19, healthcare workers are working longer hours and using personal protective equipment (PPE) that’s not always kind to their skin. 

Perhaps you have seen the pictures of medical professionals with injuries caused by wearing face masks for long periods, or maybe you have looked in the mirror. Images of reddened skin, sores, chafing, and bruising caused by masks and eye protection, particularly on the nose’s bridge and the upper part of the cheeks, have been shared in news and social media around the world.

Visors can leave marks on the forehead too, as staff wears them for hours, and the loops on masks can rub painfully behind the ears. The skin on the hands can be left red, dry, flaky, cracked, and sore through constant washing and alcohol rubs.

Remember that, even during challenging times, your health and safety are essential too. Here’s how to help prevent pressure injuries and keep skin safe. 

Skin breakdown under a face mask can compromise the skin’s natural barrier against bacteria that may enter the skin. Before taking care of your patients, take time to take care of yourself – and lower your risk for further skin damage.

There’s a range of products available to you that can help keep your skin safe. For example, a properly trimmed, low-profile, thin foam dressing behind your ears is a simple way to help protect the skin against abrasion. Just be sure to apply it the right way and wear it consistently to get the best results and make sure that the product does not affect the PPE’s efficacy.

Protect your skin from a long day wearing PPE.

Follow this step-by-step process to properly prepare your skin to help protect it from your PPE.

Before your shift

  • Drink plenty of water to hydrate the skin
  • If using a moisturizer, do so at least 30 minutes before donning PPE.
  • Apply a liquid barrier film and allow to dry

While at work

  • Ensure your PPE is appropriately fitted and use face masks with ties, if available
  • Put masks on carefully and change if uncomfortable.
  • If you clean visors or goggles with wipes, allow them to dry before wearing them
  • Wash hands with soap and water and/or alcohol rub. Pat hands dry rather than rubbing.
  • Hydrate when possible

Try not to wear PPE, especially FFP3 masks, for more than two hours at a time.

After your shift ends

  • You can wash your hands with a soap substitute at home.
  • Apply moisturizer/emollient to hands and face
  • Drink lots of water

We are working hard to create a safe environment for everyone.

As different governments strengthen their local restrictions, at We Shield, we work hard to create a safe and clean environment for our front line workers and individuals at most risk of contracting COVID-1. We source and distribute top-quality personal protective equipment and safety supplies at the best pricing on the market.