Moisturizers and Cleansers in the Management of Skin Conditions Caused by Personal Protective Equipment and Frequent Handwashing

Sara Mirali, PhD; Patrick Fleming, MD, MSc, FRCPC, FCDA; Charles W. Lynde, MD, FRCPC, DABD


Skin Therapy Letter. 2021;26(4):9-13. 

In This Article


Cleansers are mainly available as soaps, combars, and synthetic detergents (syndets) (Table 3 & Table 4). Soaps are typically very alkaline and range from pH 9.0–10.0. In contrast, syndets contain synthetic detergents and are acidic or neutral (pH 5.5- 7.0). Combars are a combination of soaps and syndets.[41] While soaps are more effective at removing soluble proteins and lipids, their high pH disrupts the skin barrier and causes irritation.[42] Fragrance-free, hypoallergenic, non-soap cleansers that are neutral to low pH are recommended.[43] Frequent handwashing with low pH cleansers is preferred as they have been shown to be less irritating.[44]