In recent months, I have seen a spike in the number of patients with puzzling skin rashes on the face and neck. Appearing as rough, mildly itchy areas usually on the eyelids, cheeks and neck, these skin changes are probably due to a

reaction to frequent applications of hand sanitizer and/or disinfecting wipes.

Can hand sanitizers and wipes be a trigger for intermittent dry, itchy patches on the face? Yes.

It’s important to keep in mind that sanitizers and wipes are “leave on” products which typically contain at least 70% isopropyl alcohol (very drying) among other ingredients. They may also contain fragrance—which is a leading skin allergen worldwide. In particular patients with eczema and sensitive skin, products with isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol and fragrance may often trigger itching, stinging and redness.

We touch our face several times a minute without even being aware of it, it’s quite easy to develop an irritant contact rash to hand sanitizer and disinfecting wipes.

Treatment may require prescription strength medication to relieve your symptoms and changing up your skin care routine (for both hands and face) in order to prevent recurrence.

As the Covid-19 vaccine becomes universally available and the pandemic ends, I expect that these mysterious rashes will decrease.

Just keep this in mind—hand sanitizer may be the culprit of your face rash. It’s not only on your hands anymore.

I hope this simple skin tip will help you and your loved ones stay healthy and safe.

Golden State Dermatology is open to evaluate and treat new and established patients in person in our office or via tele-dermatology. If you would like to schedule an appointment with Dr. Soohoo, please call 650.962.4600 or schedule appointments online at www.goldenstatedermatology.com

Written By: Lillian Soohoo, MD
Board Certified Dermatologist – Golden State Dermatology, Mountain View