A new study has found that nearly half of medical staff treating patients with COVID-19 experienced serious skin injuries from the use of personal protective equipment, including masks, goggles, face shields and protective gowns. 

Investigators surveyed more than 4,300 medical professionals from 161 hospitals about their grade of PPE, daily wear time, skin injury types and preventive measures. Of the 43% who reported skin injuries, the three types of injuries included device-related pressure injuries, moisture-associated skin damage and skin tears. Co-skin injuries and multiple location injuries accounted for 27% and 77%, respectively.

Investigators also concluded that sweating, daily wear time, being male and grade 3 PPE were most associated with skin injuries. The findings were published in Advances in Wound Care.

A separate study published in Wound Management and Prevention in April suggested that applying a thick layer of petroleum jelly once every 30 minutes on the face under the contours of a fresh mask should lessen the biomechanical risk of skin tears. This step should minimize further spread of COVID-19 among caregivers, authors noted. n