Mystery Face Rash Solved

Mystery Face Rash Solvedscreen shot 2021 01 20 at 1.45.43 pm

Lillian Soohoo, MD

Board Certified Dermatologist, The Menkes Clinic

In recent months, I have seen a definite spike in the number of patients who report 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.

Remember, hand 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. Especially in patients with eczema and sensitive skin, products with isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol and fragrance may often trigger itching, stinging and redness.

Since 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.

The Menkes Clinic 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

The Menkes Clinic, Medical, Surgical, Pediatric & Cosmetic Dermatology

2490 Hospital Drive, Suite 201

Mountain View, CA 94040

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