Virgin coconut oil as prophylactic therapy against alcohol damage on skin in COVID times

J Cosmet Dermatol. 2021 Aug;20(8):2396-2408. doi: 10.1111/jocd.14258. Epub 2021 Jun 18.


Background: Increased frequency of using alcohol-based hand sanitizers (ABHS) by consumers during COVID times have resulted in increased incidences of skin issues on palms.

Objective: (1) To quantify skin damage with increased usage frequency of ABHS by consumers and (2) To evaluate Virgin Coconut Oil (VCO) as natural prophylactic agent to counter the adverse effects.

Methods: In-home usage study was carried out with 60 volunteers for a 15-day intervention-Control Group: 6 applications per day of ABHS and Test Group: Overnight VCO use (6-8 drops) followed by 6× usage per day of ABHS. This leg included dermatological evaluation and WHO Self-Assessment Scale for skin health. Another leg of measurement included non-invasive instrumental study (Moisture & TEWL Probes, Tape Strip for protein content and IR spectroscopy for protein & lipid content) on forearm of 12 subjects (25-60 years age) with and without VCO application and repeated alcohol exposure.

Results: In-home usage study established consumer experiencing skin protective effect of VCO in the context of ABHS onslaught. 25% increase in perceived moisture content was recorded for VCO users, using WHO Self-Assessment Scale. Instrumental studies confirmed an increase in TEWL and decrease in lipids & protein content. Overnight VCO application resists the extraction which builds up with repeated application.

Conclusions: Current work provides evidence of compromised hand skin barrier with ABHS daily usage. Overnight VCO application helps prepare the skin for next day alcohol use. Based on the findings, a regimen of overnight VCO application on hands as a natural prophylactic is recommended.

Keywords: alcohol-based hand sanitizers; skin damage; skin lipid extraction; skin moisturization; virgin coconut oil.

MeSH terms

  • COVID-19*
  • Coconut Oil
  • Ethanol
  • Humans
  • Lipids
  • SARS-CoV-2


  • Lipids
  • Ethanol
  • Coconut Oil