This month, we’re talking to the everyday heroes on the frontline of the NHS about their roles in the COVID-19 pandemic, and their recent relationships with their skin. Today, we’re talking to Hannah McKee, Speciality Doctor, about the impact of PPE, the changes in her job and her skincare journey.

Name: Hannah McKee

Job Title: Speciality Doctor in Emergency Medicine

Location: Stoke on Trent

Can you tell us a little bit about your role? 

As a Specialty Doctor (or SAS Dr) I have been working in Emergency Medicine for nearly 12 years. It is a job that I absolutely love thanks to the variety of things I can see in a single shift; you never know what will roll through the door next so it keeps you on your toes!

How has your job changed due to the pandemic?

The department I work in was already big – it’s a major trauma centre. But within a week the department was split in two to ensure we could run Red (Covid) and Green (non-Covid) sides safely. The first couple of months we had almost daily updates on changes of procedures, PPE and patient pathways which took time to get your head around. In our county we weren’t hit too badly in the first wave, but the second wave has had a significant impact on us here since November. 

We still see absolutely all the things we saw before, plus we’re also dealing with Covid on top of it all, so the pressure on staff and space have been challenging at times. I’m thankful for the amazing team I get to work with every day. They truly are a second family, and during the lockdowns I’ve been lucky to still be able to speak to work friends and colleagues to keep my spirits up.

Tell us about your skincare journey over the years.

I’ve always tried to at least cleanse and moisturise since my early twenties, but never consistently stuck to a ‘system’. About 4 years ago I started looking into it a bit more when I became aware of companies like The Ordinary and became interested in the different ingredients and what they could do. The last two years I’ve stuck to a consistent routine AM and PM and I’ve definitely seen the benefits. I was using commercially available retinols, but then heard about Skin + Me and decided to move over to a more customised service, especially as 40 is only 18 months away!

How has your skin been affected by the pandemic?

My skin has always been normal/combination with the added ‘bonus’ of hormonal spots (which have gotten worse as I’ve gotten older!).

I have had some more dry and irritated patches across my cheeks at times, and this does seem related to certain masks that we have in stock – some are softer than others for sure!

I’ve also had to be especially diligent with keeping up with my hydration in general. The close fitted masks make it very difficult to just snatch a drink whenever you want, and the level 3 PPE (the full kit) is very hot and sweaty. I now try to make sure my water consumption is better the day before a shift and I know if I haven’t succeeded as, amongst other things, my skin feels drier.

Do you have any skincare tips you’d like to share with other frontline health workers?

Double cleanse after a shift, even if you don’t wear makeup, Niacinamide is amazing and moisturise, moisturise, moisturise!

What are your thoughts on Skin + Me so far?

Currently I have Tretinoin 0.018%, Clindamycin 1%, Azelaic Acid 4% and I’m on Month 5.

I’ve been very happy so far. I’ve seen a massive reduction in the hormonal cystic spots I was previously getting, and reduction in open pores on my nose and chin. Overall texture has improved too. I definitely have to buffer the product with LRP Cicaplast B5 around my nostrils though – no matter how much I avoid that area I think it migrates and makes it a bit drier.

If you could give a Skin + Me subscription to anyone who would it be and why?

My sister, she’s a Healthcare Assistant at our local hospice and has a place to start her nursing degree in September. She has similar skin to me, but has previously suffered from acne. I think she deserves a little pick-me-up along with the rest of us!