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Advice on coronavirus (Covid-19) for people with eczema

Last updated 01.06.21

We will continue to update this page as new information that may be relevant to people with eczema comes to light. For more general information on Covid-19, please see the NHS website.

Do Covid-19 vaccines affect eczema?

To date, there is no robust evidence to indicate that Covid-19 vaccines make underlying skin conditions, including eczema, worse.

We have heard from a number of people who have told us that their eczema has worsened or re-appeared after receiving a Covid-19 vaccine. If you experience a side effect after receiving one of the vaccines, including worsening of your eczema, we encourage you to report it to the Medicines & Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA)’s Coronavirus Yellow Card reporting site. Alternatively, report it to your GP. By doing this, an evidence base can be built up regarding the vaccines and eczema.

SECURE-AD Patient Survey – how does Covid-19 vaccination affect people with eczema?

The SECURE-AD research team is running a survey to gain more insight into how the pandemic affects people living with atopic eczema. They are very interested to find out how people living with atopic eczema feel about and experience Covid-19 vaccinations. More information on the survey can be found here. To complete the survey, please go to the SECURE-AD website. Thank you!

Can people on treatments that affect the immune system take Covid-19 vaccines?

People taking systemic treatments that affect the immune system (for example, prednisolone, azathioprine, ciclosporin, methotrexate, mycophenelate mofetil and dupilumab) are advised to avoid ‘live’ vaccines. The three Covid-19 vaccines that are currently being rolled-out in the UK are not ‘live’ vaccines and have no Covid-19 virus in them. This means that people on treatments that affect the immune system can take them.

We don’t have enough information at the moment to know whether being on an immunosuppressant or biologic treatment will reduce the effectiveness of the vaccines.

People taking systemic treatments that affect the immune system are unlikely to need to stop taking their treatment (or delay starting new treatment) in order to take one of the Covid-19 vaccines. Check with your doctor if you’re unsure.

For more information on eczema, treatments that affect the immune system and the Covid-19 vaccines, please see the British Association of Dermatologists’ Covid-19 Provisional Guidance on Vaccination and the Government’s Green Book Covid-19 Provisional Guidance.

Which types of face coverings are the most eczema-friendly?

Face coverings made from 100% cotton that can be washed regularly are probably the most eczema-friendly type of covering. Cloth ear loops are less likely to irritate the skin than elastic ones. Also consider coverings that tie around the back of the head. ‘Mask headbands’ or hats with buttons are another option. With these, the elastic loops around the buttons rather than your ears. ‘Neck gaiters’, ‘buffs’ or ‘tube scarfs’, which are basically a tube of material, might suit too – if 100% cotton.

Make sure the covering fits snugly around your nose and mouth but isn’t tight.

Avoid applying ointment emollients to the face shortly before you put on a covering, as they might make the face too hot.

How can I mitigate the effects of frequent hand-washing?

We recommend that people with eczema follow the government guidance to wash hands with soap and water, rather than an emollient soap substitute, as much as practically possible. Soap is considered to be more effective than emollient at breaking the lipid envelope surrounding coronavirus particles, and removing the virus from the skin.

Frequent washing of hands with soap can, however, cause problems for people with eczema, including dry skin and hand eczema. It is very important people find ways of managing dry skin and hand eczema that may be caused or worsened by frequent washing with soap.

Strategies for this include:

  • After washing hands with soap and water, re-wash using emollient to help protect the skin.
  • Use emollients to moisturise the hands after washing and at other times during the day when the skin feels dry and sore.
  • Dry hands well after washing by gently patting them dry, not rubbing. When drying your hands, take special care between the fingers where the skin is more prone to dryness and cracking, and build-up of soap residue.
  • Rehydrate sore dry hands overnight, using an ointment and wearing clean cotton gloves.
  • Wear nitrile gloves if you need to handle detergents or other cleaning products that can irritate the skin. These provide a physical barrier for the skin and can be purchased from chemists or from online shops.
  • If you develop more severe hand eczema or suspect your skin is infected, you should contact your GP and may need prescription medicine to reduce the inflammation.

If you feel you need to use sanitising gel (which may irritate your eczema), apply your usual emollient afterwards to minimise any irritant effect.

In public places where you can’t avoid touching surfaces, try not to touch your nose, eyes or mouth (or your child’s) because the virus gets in through mucous membranes.

What are the most eczema-friendly soaps?

We asked our followers on our social media channels which soaps they would recommend. Not all products will suit everyone, but people with eczema have said the following brands/products have worked well for them:

We don’t recommend applying olive oil to the skin as it can damage the skin barrier, but olive oil soaps seem to be well-tolerated by many people with eczema who responded to our request for soap recommendations.

How can I see a GP or dermatologist?

Please don’t delay in getting healthcare. If you need urgent medical help and it’s not an emergency, contact your GP or NHS 111 online or telephone NHS 111 first. Your GP practice should offer online, telephone and video consultations. If you are invited in for a face-to-face appointment, infection control measures are in place to keep patients and staff safe.

The Covid-19 NICE guidance says that dermatology departments should ‘optimise the use of teledermatology, such as telephone and video consultations’. If your dermatology appointment has been cancelled due to the crisis, try to find out whether a telephone or video consultation would be possible instead.

Does Covid-19 pose a higher risk for people on systemic treatments?

For more information about systemic treatments for eczema and Covid-19 risk, please see the British Association of Dermatologists’ Risk Stratification Grid. It gives information about Covid-19 risk relating to systemic treatments and other factors.

Am I more likely to develop Covid-19 as a result of having eczema?

There is no evidence to suggest that people with eczema are more likely to develop Covid-19 or to experience a more severe form of the condition if they do develop it.