Skin and COVID-19: the body's forgotten defense layer
Updated: Jul 3
The COVID-19 pandemic is a global tragedy that's brought a spotlight on healthcare models across the world, their relatives merits and failings. While our own healthcare system has had its own share of the latter, its still proving to be an actively responsive model that's continuing to save lives.
Because COVID-19 is a novel or 'new' strain of coronavirus, our body's defence systems are still unable to learn how to deal with this particular strain. We often think about the body's defences as being microscopic cells but the first and one of the most effective barriers is the skin.
Skin is not only the largest organ in the human body but actively prevents germs, viruses from entering our body: look at the seals around your fingernails. Skin itself is slightly acidic - you might have seen cleansing products boasting a neutral pH around 7 but healthy skin is around the 4.5, and great at stopping a great number of known microbes dead in their tracks. There have been increasing reports in recent weeks of skin symptoms that may be linked to COVID-19 and while it's too early to say with any authority, all health professionals agree that good skin hygiene is more important than ever. Today, I want to talk a little about taking care of the skin, and particularly the skin of your feet.
You may wonder why it's important, given that your feet are usually locked away in their shoes much of the day. It's precisely because they're locked away that they become a fabulous breeding ground for germs. Next time you shower, make a note of where all that dirty water falls to. Your feet, which between them have a quarter of a million sweat glands and produce around a half pint in perspiration on a normal day. Unless your last stop is a good foot scrub, chances are you're probably leaving the shower with dirtier feet than when you went in.
It's therefore so important that you keep your outer defences in good condition. At our clinic, consultations usually begin with a warm antibacterial foot bath in our specially designed 'wells'. A 5 minute soak not only drains away that unwanted layer of dead skin but anything unsavoury on its surface, leaving your feet fresh and clean and ready for treatment.
Many of my clients ask me what are the best type of soaps to use liquid or hard soap. At our clinic we've been sanitising hard surfaces with virucidal sprays and UV wands for nearly a decade, but at home I'd recommend a simple bar of Dettol antibacterial soap. It's ideal for washing your feet daily, even if you have super sensitive skin.
With your skin trying to fight off all the microbial threats we encounter on a daily basis, it's good practice to make sure that you aren't harbouring something nasty out of sight and are giving yourself the best defence every day.