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Taking Immunosuppressants and Facing Covid-19

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

In our clinic, we have many patients who are taking medications for inflammatory skin conditions such as eczema or psoriasis. Most of these medications are immunosuppressants – medications that can weaken the immune system. Recently, one of our long-term patients on a biologic (latest targeted therapy for psoriasis) emailed us, as he is worried about catching Covid-19 when his immunity is lower than other people.

Our advice to him, and patients facing the same dilemma, is this:

  • Practice good hand hygiene. Evidence suggests Covid-19 is spread by droplets. These droplets are land on surfaces that people touch, or when they cough or sneeze. Hence one should wash his or her hands frequently with soap and water. Follow the 8-steps of handwashing on the MOH website, or look for relevant videos on YouTube.
  • Avoid touching your face. Covid-19 can enter our body only via certain receptors on our cells. Their main portals of entry are our mucosal surfaces (eyes, nose, mouth). So no eating with bare hands, rubbing of eyes and picking of nose!
  • Get the influenza vaccine. This doesn’t prevent Covid-19, but is generally good advice for people with lower immunity. By reducing your risk of catching the common flu, it will reduce the chance of you having to see a doctor for flu symptoms and being suspected of having Covid-19.
  • Avoid crowded areas, especially enclosed, air-conditioned spaces eg. cinemas.
  • Consult your dermatologist before deciding whether to stop your medication. Most patients on immunosuppressants including biologics have severe skin conditions to begin with, and sudden cessation of medication can trigger a flare that may even require hospitalization.

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