Please note: The circumstances around Covid-19 are rapidly evolving on a daily basis. We will review and update guidance in line with the latest advice from the HSE as the situation develops. This information was updated on 25th May 2020. Check the HSE Website for regular updates on Covid-19 advice

There are some groups of people who may be more at risk of serious illness if they catch coronavirus. More from the HSE.

People at higher risk from coronavirus

Coronavirus (COVID-19) can make anyone seriously ill. But for some people, the risk is higher.

There are 2 levels of higher risk:

There is different advice to protect people in each group.

Immunosuppressive treatments and steroids

There is no evidence to date that you are more at risk of a serious infection from coronavirus if you are on:

  • immunosuppressive treatments
  • steroids

But other infections can cause severe illness for people on immunosuppressive treatment. It could be the same for coronavirus. We just don’t know yet.

Read more on immunosupressive treatments and steroids

Covid-19 and Skin Conditions – Expert Q&A

This video was recorded on 1st April 2020 with Professor Anne-Marie Tobin, Consultant Dermatologist at Tallaght University Hospital and HSE Clinical Lead for Dermatology, and Professor Brian Kirby, Consultant Dermatologist at St Vincent’s Hospital and a global expert on psoriasis, to discuss some of the most frequently asked questions that the ISF has received about Coronavirus (Covid-19) and chronic skin conditions.

What is Covid-19?

COVID-19 is a new illness that can affect your lungs and airways. It’s caused by a virus called coronavirus.

How coronavirus is spread

Coronavirus (COVID-19) is spread in sneeze or cough droplets.

You could get the virus if you:

  • come into close contact with someone who has the virus and is coughing or sneezing
  • touch surfaces that someone who has the virus has coughed or sneezed on and bring your unwashed hands to your face (eyes, nose or mouth)

How long the virus can survive on surfaces

Common household disinfectants will kill the virus on surfaces. Clean the surface first and then use a disinfectant.

Coronavirus can survive for:

  • up to 72 hours on plastic and stainless steel
  • less than 4 hours on copper
  • less than 24 hours on cardboard

Learn how to protect yourself and others from coronavirus.

Symptoms of coronavirus / Covid-19

It can take up to 14 days for symptoms of coronavirus to appear. They can be similar to the symptoms of cold and flu.

Common symptoms of coronavirus include:

If you have any of these symptoms, you should behave as if you have the virus and self-isolate for 14 days. People in your household will need to restrict their movements.

You may also need to be tested for coronavirus. Find out when you should call your GP to be assessed for a test.

Our scientists are also discovering that some people’s symptoms are so mild that they have had coronavirus without realising it.

The pollen count is higher now so more people will experience hayfever. Learn more about the typical signs and symptoms of hayfever.

Stay at home

Everyone needs to stay at home to help slow the spread of coronavirus.

You should only leave your home to:

  • shop for essential food and household goods
  • attend medical appointments, collect medicine or other health products
  • care for children, older people or other vulnerable people – this excludes social family visits
  • exercise outdoors. Do this within 5 kilometres of your home and only with people from your own household. Keep 2 metres between you and other people.
  • travel to work if you provide an essential service – be sure to practice social distancing

There is separate advice about:

Avoid non-essential travel overseas and follow the DFA’s travel advice.

Social distancing

Social distancing is important to help slow the spread of coronavirus. It does this by minimising contact between potentially infected individuals and healthy individuals.

You should:

  • keep a space of 2 metres (6.5 feet) between you and other people
  • avoid communal sleeping areas
  • avoid any crowded places
  • not shake hands or make close contact with other people, if possible

There is very little risk if you are just passing someone. But try to keep a distance of 2 metres as much as possible.

Clean your hands

Use soap and water or alcohol hand rub to clean your hands regularly.

How to wash your hands with soap and water

  1. Wet your hands with warm water and apply soap.
  2. Rub your hands together until the soap forms a lather.
  3. Rub the top of your hands, between your fingers and under your fingernails.
  4. Do this for about 20 seconds.
  5. Rinse your hands under running water.
  6. Dry your hands with a clean towel or paper towel.

If you have dry skin or a skin condition, apply moisturiser after washing your hands and at night.

Hand hygiene at home

When you’re at home or not in hospital, make sure you clean your hands:

  • after you use the toilet
  • once you clean up after your pet
  • before you prepare food, handle food or eat
  • after touching raw meat
  • after you use public transport
  • when you get home after meeting lots of people

Cleaning your hands can help you avoid:

  • colds and flu
  • tummy bugs that cause diarrhoea, such as norovirus
  • eye infections such as conjunctivitis
  • superbugs such as MRSA and VRE

Many of these infections are common in children. Parents and childcare workers should always make sure children clean their hands regularly.


Phone your GP to be assessed for a coronavirus test if you are in one of these situations:


You suddenly experience one of these symptoms and there is no other obvious cause:

  • fever
  • cough
  • shortness of breath


You have been in close contact with someone you think or know has coronavirus in the last 14 days and suddenly experience one of these symptoms:

  • fever
  • cough
  • shortness of breath
  • blocked nose or sinus
  • stuffed or runny nose
  • sore throat
  • wheezing

You should self-isolate if either of these situations apply to you.

GP assessment

Your test and GP assessment will be free of charge.

Phone your GP. Do not go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital. The GP will assess you over the phone.

Any GP can arrange a test for you.

Your GP may refer you to a coronavirus community assessment hub.

Do not ring GP out-of-hours services. They cannot arrange testing.

HSELive cannot order coronavirus tests. It is an information line only.

Find contact details for your GP

Treat coronavirus symptoms at home

There is no specific treatment for coronavirus. But many of the symptoms of coronavirus can be treated at home.

About 80% of people can recover at home and without needing to go to hospital.

If you are generally fit and healthy with only mild symptoms, your GP will tell you to self-isolate.

The most important thing you can do is to protect others from catching coronavirus. It is especially important to protect people at higher risk from coronavirus.

You should:

  • self-isolate
  • get lots of rest and sleep.
  • drink enough water to avoid dehydration. Your pee should be light yellow or clear
  • eat healthily
  • avoid smoking
  • keep warm
  • monitor and treat your symptoms

Read more about symptoms of:

If your symptoms get worse

Phone your GP if your symptoms don’t improve.

If you are over the age of 60 or have a condition that puts you at higher risk from coronavirus, keep a close eye on your symptoms. Phone your GP straight away if they get worse.

Read about when to get medical help if you need it.

Medicines to treat symptoms

The best medicines to use will depend on your:

  • symptoms
  • other medical conditions
  • any other medication you’re taking

Paracetamol or ibuprofen may help to lower your temperature and treat aches and pains. Paracetamol is usually recommended as the first-line treatment for most people.

Before taking any medication, read the full package leaflet that comes with your medicine. Follow any advice a healthcare professional gives you.

Antibiotics do not work against coronavirus or any viruses. They will not relieve your symptoms or speed up your recovery.

Coronavirus is a virus and antibiotics cannot treat viruses.

Minding your mental health during the coronavirus pandemic

Infectious disease pandemics like coronavirus (COVID-19) can be worrying. This can affect your mental health. But there are many things you can do to mind your mental health during times like this.

Learn more on minding your mental health.

General guidance for people with skin conditions

The ISF operates an ‘Ask a Nurse’ Helpline service where our dermatology nurses provide support, information and general guidance for your skin condition. Submit your question any time by filling out the ‘Ask a Nurse’ form.

The ISF and other dermatology organisations have been working to provide the below up-to-date guidance for people with skin conditions during this rapidly evolving situation. The ISF will ensure this content is regularly updated.