COVID-19 Hand Care Advice

First published 6th March 2020

COVID-19 outbreak

It is essential during the outbreak of COVID-19 that we follow the advice recommended by infection control experts, which highlights the importance of frequent hand washing, with soap and water, or using alcohol-based hand rub.

For up-to-date health information and advice in Ireland in relation to COVID-19 please visit the HSE’s webpage.

Protect yourself and others

We constantly touch surfaces with our hands and can pick up viruses as a result. Therefore, frequent and thorough hand washing is extremely important to decrease the spread of the infection.

The World Health Organization (WHO) have advised that you should avoid rubbing your eyes, nose and mouth as the virus can enter the body via these routes.

Advice from the experts

The advice from the experts is to cover your nose and mouth with a tissue or your bent elbow, when you cough or sneeze, as the virus is spread by droplet infection.

Dispose of the tissue immediately after use, and wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water, for at least 20 seconds (Hum the “Happy Birthday” song from beginning to end twice)*.

*If soap and water is not available, use an alcohol based rub.

Reduce the risk of hand dermatitis

Frequent exposure to soaps, detergents and water can reduce the natural oils in your skin and can weaken the skin barrier, leading to the skin becoming dry, irritated and cracked.

Increased hand washing and use of alcohol gels may trigger hand dermatitis.

To reduce the risk of this happening, it is important to take care of your hands:

  • Wash hands with warm running water.
  • If possible, remove any rings before washing your hands to avoid moisture and soap

getting trapped under the rings.

  • If you cannot remove the rings, try to dry underneath them.
  • After drying the hands thoroughly, apply an emollient (non-cosmetic moisturiser).

Emollients are cheap and effective and provide a protective film on the hands.

  • Apply emollients frequently to prevent the skin from drying and to keep your hands

well moisturised.

  • Consider applying a barrier cream to provide extra protection to the hands.


If you need guidance or support about managing a skin disorder, contact the ISF Helpline for free assistance and information.