August 2020

The rise in handwashing 

With the increased need for handwashing since the coronavirus pandemic began, the British Skin Foundation asked 250 parents of young children about the effect this has had on their skin.  The results were quite surprising.

A staggering 56% of children are experiencing some type of skin problem associated with their hands.  24% or 1 in 4 children are now suffering from hand eczema due to increased handwashing. This is quite a rise since before the pandemic when it was estimated that 1 in 5 children experienced eczema at some stage in their childhood. (1)

Rebecca Byers, mum to Jade age 7 says, “It’s difficult weighing up the need for my child to practice hand hygiene whilst knowing that it could potentially make her eczema worse. Knowing that doctors appreciate this dilemma helps and I believe that following their advice is crucial to keeping my child safe at this time.” 

Additionally, 38% reported dry skin, 17% of children are suffering with cracked skin, whilst alarmingly 6% are experiencing the distress and pain of bleeding hands.

Dr Paula Beattie, British Skin Foundation spokesperson and dermatologist at the Royal Hospital for Children in Glasgow says, “Keeping hands clean is a key part in the fight against Covid-19. Although it’s concerning to hear of children suffering with skin problems due to frequent handwashing, thankfully this can be alleviated with the regular use of an unfragranced moisturiser. Encourage your child to get into the routine of moisturising after every hand wash.”

To celebrate the important role children have played in the fight against coronavirus, the British Skin Foundation created The Children’s Wave – a virtual Mexican wave to their family and friends, showing off their clean hands.

By washing their hands children have learnt about the importance of cleanliness, not just for themselves, but to protect those they love around them.  Through these simple actions they are playing a key role in beating Covid-19. 

It’s quick and easy to get involved with The Children’s Wave.  Parents simply need to visit on a mobile phone and upload two portrait photos of their child waving and smiling.

Dr Sue Mayou, Consultant Dermatologist & British Skin Foundation spokesperson adds, “Hand hygiene is vital to combat the spread of coronavirus. The Children’s Wave is a fantastic way to celebrate the essential role children have played by keeping their hands clean during the pandemic.”

For more information on handwashing and hand health you can download our children’s activity pack here and listen to our handwashing song here.  


(1) British Association of Dermatologists. 2020. Atopic Eczema [ONLINE] Available at [Accessed 3 August 2020].  

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