Clinical Corner: Treating & Preventing PPE Abrasions 

In the fight against COVID-19, many health care workers struggle with friction injuries and skin breakdown from continuous use of PPE, such as goggles and face masks. Extended use of PPE can cause bruising and skin abrasions due to prolonged garment pressure and friction combined with the increased humidity from body heat and exhalation. 

We first were educated about PPE-related skin problems during the 2002 SARS outbreak. The Singapore Study in 2006 outlined adverse tissue reactions of female staff members following extended use of PPE. The N-95 mask was specifically noted with a 60% increase in acne, 36% dermal rashes and over 50% reporting itching or dermatitis.1

Recent Journal of Tissue articles emphasize that protecting a health care professional’s skin from injuries under the mask is vital to the care-givers health. Friction-related skin injuries pose a threat to healthcare workers' health because the compromised skin serves as an entry point for Covid-19, and other bacterial, viral or fungal infections.

Many types of PPE can cause injury to the skin. Healthcare workers and First Responders often wear N-95 masks for extended periods due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Overuse of PPE and associated products may result in friction sheering of the nose, cheek bones, and jawline, open sores, itchiness, and other health risks.

Individuals who must wear PPE for extended periods of time may benefit from using protective dressings underneath their masks, goggles, face shields, and gloves. Foam and silicone dressings, such as Dynarex SiliGentle and DynaFoam dressings, have proven to be effective in minimizing the itching and injury associated with prolonged PPE use.2

The SiliGentle Foam Dressing is a comfortable, soft, and adaptable bandage. The dressing adheres to skin and absorbs moisture. SiliGentle provides a healing environment for existing injuries while helping prevent further discomfort.

The DynaFoam Waterproof Dressing is a primary foam dressing with a secondary waterproof layer. This provides cushioning at contact points for PPE wearers, while protecting the skin and absorbing liquid contaminants. 

Both products can be worn for 2-3 days to provide extended injury prevention during prolonged PPE use. They can also be cut to better fit the contours of the face. 

Throughout these changing and difficult times, we must learn to adapt to the demands of our environment both on a personal level and on a clinical level. Our products' superior quality, ease of use, and comfortable application have proved vital to the health and comfort of healthcare workers and first responders. 

Sources

1. Adverse skin reactions to personal protective equipment against severe acute respiratory syndrome – a descriptive study in Singapore. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7162267/
2. PRPPE GUIDELINE | COVID 19PRevention of skin lesions caused by Personal Protective Equipment (Face masks, respirators, visors and protection glasses) https://www.aptferidas.com/Ficheiros/COVID19/APTFeridas%20-%20RECOMENDAC%CC%A7A%CC%83O%20PREPI-COVID19%20ING.pdf