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Covid-19: Petroleum jelly & talc powder best lubricants for PPE

Prashasti Awasthi Mumbai | Updated on September 26, 2020 Published on September 26, 2020

Standards are needed for various protection levels at par with international norms   -  hocus-focus

A new study published in the journal PLOS ONE suggested that the best lubricants to use to protect skin from personal protective equipment (PPE) wear and tear are petroleum jelly and talcum powder.

PPE is a suit that is worn by frontline health care workers to avert Covid-19.

According to researchers, petroleum jelly and talcum powder can prevent injury from prolonged use of masks and visors amidst the coronavirus pandemic.

The authors mentioned that the best lubricant is the one that doesn't get absorbed by the skin. Hence, creating a long-lasting layer of protection between skin and PPE.

The scientists, including those from Imperial College London in the UK, noted that more workers are sporting PPE in order to protect themselves from the virus.

However, prolonged use of the PPE especially around the face can create friction and cause injuries like skin tears, blistering, ulcers, and hives.

Findings

Researchers noted that in order to protect the skin, workers may have to apply lubricants every half an hour, which is not possible as they may get expose to the virus.

The scientists added that many typical moisturizers do not last long as they are designed to be absorbed into the skin for a 'non-greasy feel'.

Study lead author Marc Masen from Imperial College London said in an official statement: "We think of moisturizers as good for our skin, but commercial skin creams are often designed to absorb into the skin without leaving any residue."

"While this is fine for everyday moisturizing, our study shows that a greasy residue is precisely what's needed to protect skin from PPE friction," Masen said.

The authors of the study explained that talcum powder reduces friction by 49 per cent on the application and 59 per cent at four hours. However, a commercially available product comprising coconut oil, cocoa butter, and beeswax reduced friction by 31 per cent on the application and 53 per cent at four hours.

The researchers further wrote that a mixture of petrolatum and lanolin reduced friction by 30 per cent throughout testing.

"The products that don't absorb easily into the skin are the ones that provide a protective layer. In fact, for PPE wearers, it's best to actively avoid creams and moisturizers which advertise a 'non-greasy feel'," said study co-author Zhengchu Tan.

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Published on September 26, 2020
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