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 13th April 2021. Check the HSE Website for regular updates on COVID-19 advice and vaccines and for the latest information on how Ireland is responding to cases of COVID-19.

Stay at home – Ireland is at level 5.
Read about the current government restrictions on

People at higher risk from coronavirus

COVID-19 (coronavirus) 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

Being on immunosuppressive treatments is not known to increase your risk of getting COVID-19.

Do not stop or change your medication unless your doctor advises you to. If you stop your medicine without your doctor’s advice, you may be more likely to have a flare-up of your condition during this period.

Examples of immunosuppressive medicines are:

  • steroids
  • biologic agents
  • methotrexate
  • azathioprine

Read more on immunosupressive treatments and steroids

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.

Video: COVID-19 Vaccines and Skin Conditions Q&A

This video was recorded on 14 January 2021 with Professor Anne-Marie Tobin (Consultant Dermatologist at Tallaght University Hospital and HSE Clinical Lead for Dermatology) to discuss some frequently asked questions people with skin conditions have about the COVID-19 vaccines.

Getting your COVID-19 Vaccine

COVID-19 (coronavirus) is a highly infectious disease that can cause serious illness, hospitalisation and even death.

COVID-19 vaccines offer protection from COVID-19. If you do get COVID-19 after vaccination, you should be protected from the serious illness the virus can sometimes cause.

You don’t have to get a COVID-19 vaccine by law. But we strongly recommend that you get your vaccine when it’s offered to you.

There’s no charge for getting your COVID-19 vaccine. It’s free. You cannot get it privately.

Read about the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines in Ireland

If you take immunosuppressive medicines

You should still get your COVID-19 vaccine if you take immunosuppressant medicines.

Examples of immunosuppressants are:

  • steroids
  • biologic agents
  • methotrexate
  • azathioprine

If you take rituximab, speak to your consultant before getting the vaccine. They will tell you the best time, between doses of rituximab, to get the vaccine.

If you have a weakened immune system, your COVID-19 vaccine may not work as well for you. But there is no extra risk in getting it.

Read more about weak immune systems and COVID-19


COVID-19 & 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.

Common symptoms of COVID-19 include:

You may not have all of these symptoms. It can take up to 14 days for symptoms to show. They can be similar to symptoms of cold and flu.

An early diagnosis from your GP means you can get the help you need and avoid spreading the virus, if you have it.

Call the emergency services on 112 or 999 if you are very short of breath. For example, if you are so short of breath that you cannot complete a sentence

How coronavirus is spread

The most common way you can get COVID-19 (coronavirus) is by coming into close contact with someone who has the virus. You can spread the virus even if you do not have symptoms.

Close contact

COVID-19 is mainly spread through close contact and droplets that come from your nose and mouth. For example, from someone who is talking loud, singing, shouting, coughing or sneezing.

This happens when people are within 1 to 2 metres of each other.

It is why keeping a 2 metre distance from other people is so effective in reducing the spread.

Infected surfaces

You can also get the virus from infected surfaces. For example, when someone who has the virus sneezes or coughs, droplets with the virus can fall onto surfaces around them.

If you touch that surface and then touch your eyes, nose or mouth, you could become infected too.

That’s why it’s important to wash your hands properly and often.

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.

COVID-19 can survive for:

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

Airborne spread

Airborne transmission is the spread of a virus in very tiny water particles. This can happen over a longer distance than droplets, such as across a room.

Airborne transmission does not appear to play a major role in the spread of COVID-19. But it can happen in some situations.

To protect yourself, keep indoor spaces well ventilated (aired out) by opening windows and doors if possible.

How to protect yourself

Wearing a face covering can protect you. But you should still do the important things needed to prevent the spread of the virus.

These include:

The virus can spread easily in crowded environments. Avoid crowded places as much as possible. Leave a location if it becomes overcrowded and you cannot keep 2 metres apart from other people.

Read guidance on how to protect yourself and others from COVID-19

Restricted movements (stay at home)

Restricting your movements means staying at home as much as possible to avoid contact with other people. This is sometimes called quarantine. It helps to stop the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus).

When you should restrict your movements

Restrict your movements for 14 days if you:

  • are a close contact of a confirmed case of COVID-19
  • live with someone who has symptoms of COVID-19, but you feel well
  • arrive in Ireland from another country, in most cases

There is different advice if you have arrived in Ireland from a high-risk country – see a list on

Treat COVID-19 symptoms at home

There is no specific treatment for COVID-19 (coronavirus). But many of the symptoms of COVID-19 can be treated at home. About 80% of people can recover at home and without needing to go to hospital.

The vaccines will be delivered in stages so it will take time to vaccinate the population. Read more about the COVID-19 vaccines.

If you develop symptoms, you should self-isolate to stop the spread of COVID-19. Phone your GP or GP out-of-hours straightaway to discuss your symptoms and whether you need a test for COVID-19.

The most important thing you can do is to protect others from catching COVID-19. It is especially important to protect people at higher risk from COVID-19.

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:

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 of treatment for most people.


Antibiotics do not work against COVID-19 or any viruses. They will not relieve your symptoms or speed up your recovery.

COVID-19 is a virus and antibiotics cannot treat viruses.


It is okay to take ibuprofen or other anti-inflammatories (NSAID) if you have COVID-19. There is no evidence that they are unsafe.

Only take one anti-inflammatory medication at a time. It is okay to take paracetamol and an anti-inflammatory at the same time.

Anti-inflammatory medicines include:

  • ibuprofen – brand names: Nurofen, Actiprofen, Advil, Brufen, Brupro, Buplex, Easofen, and Fenopine. Ibuprofen gel can be called Nurofen, Melfen, Phorpain, Ibugel and Ibuleve
  • naproxen – brand name: Naprosyn
  • diclofenac – brand names: Voltarol, Diclo, Diclac, Cataflam, Difene and Flector
  • diclofenac – brand names: Voltarol, Diclo, Diclac, Cataflam, Difene and Flector

Get medical help for non-COVID-19 symptoms

GPs, hospitals and other parts of the health service are open and seeing patients. You can also get medical help and prescriptions online or over the phone.

All health services have precautions in place to protect against the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus). There may be changes to appointments and services because of the steps we are taking to keep everyone safe.

It’s important to get medical help if you need it. Do not ignore or delay getting medical treatment for any unusual signs or symptoms that you may be experiencing.

If you feel unwell

Phone your GP to discuss your symptoms if you feel unwell. They may give you advice over the phone or arrange to see you in person.

Find GP services in your area

Urgent medical help

If you are feeling very unwell and need urgent medical help, phone 112 or 999. Ask for an ambulance. You can also go to your local emergency department