COVID-19 and Skin Cancer: Meeting Clinical Challenges in Dermatology
Posted: Tuesday, May 12, 2020
The COVID-19 pandemic’s effect on the world of dermatology ranges from its impact on potential schedule changes for skin cancer surgeries to the myriad of skin issues that can afflict physicians and other health-care workers who are constantly using personal protective equipment. Uwe Wollina, MD, of the Academic Teaching Hospital of the Technical University of Dresden, Germany, offered some guidance for these and other dermatologic challenges in Dermatologic Therapy.
Surgery to remove primary non-melanoma skin cancer tumors should not be delayed for reasons related to COVID-19, according to Dr. Wollina, particularly “in critical topographical areas, such as perioral, periocular.” For malignant melanoma, even more aggressive, “the best curative treatment [remains] early complete surgical removal…. [And] in patients with metastatic melanoma, treatment delay may result in a loss of the window to treat.”
Regarding medical professionals’ own skin issues, clearly, “sanitary masks and goggles reduce the risk of viral transmission,” Dr. Wollina noted. “This is of particular importance in clinical dermatology, since…diagnoses can rarely be made from a distance larger than 20 cm.” However, he continued, personal protective equipment can cause “occupational skin damage,” as it did in 97% of 542 doctors and nurses employed by tertiary hospitals involved in COVID‐19 patient care in Hubei, China. Dr. Wollina’s article details certain techniques related to moisturizers and other products that may help avoid this outcome.
Issues related to systemic steroids and their use during the COVID-19 pandemic in patients with, for instance, moderate‐to‐severe psoriasis are also addressed by Dr. Wollina. Additionally, he added, dermatologists are key players in making differential diagnoses when seeing patients with generalized rash and fever, who may—or may not—have COVID-19.
Disclosure: The study author reported no conflicts of interest.