Natural Disasters, Like Hurricanes, Can Lead to Skin Disasters

Author: Dr. Bobby Buka

floods, water, skin

Here are a Few Tips to Protect Your Skin from Flood Water

Natural disasters, like the recent hurricanes and the less-recent (but painfully memorable to New Yorkers) hurricane Sandy, bring a host of emergencies and problems, both large and small.

When it comes to the flooding that accompanies hurricanes it’s important to remember that your skin is at risk, and to protect yourself from the complications that can occur.

There are two reasons your skin is vulnerable when exposed to flood water. First, the water itself is usually a near-toxic stew of sewage, debris and chemicals. Those submerged cars and dumpsters–the contents of tanks and trash containers alone is a huge issue. Then, there’s the sewage from overtaxed and backed up drainage systems.

The water itself is murky, which makes skin vulnerable to the second hazard–hidden sharp objects.

Between the stuff in the water, and the time skin spends exposed to water, there’s a strong possibility of skin infection, traumatic skin disease, inflammation, rashes, burning sensations and boils.

So standing, sitting, wading through and cleaning up flood waters is, at best, a perilous thing to do. But, it’s also necessary if your home, or hometown, is flooded.

There are a few things you can do to minimize the dangers.

Here are the basics:

  • Wear protective clothing including, long pants, long sleeves, rubber boots, plastic or rubber gloves, and goggles. You might look silly on the news, but you’ll be at far less risk with the right gear.
  • Don’t use objects that have been in contaminated water (and certainly don’t let kids play with toys!) until they’ve been thoroughly cleaned with safe water and a disinfectant. And, assume no water is safe until local or state authorities have said it is.
  • Wash your hands, often, again making sure that you are using clean water and soap.
  • Be extra careful if you have any open wounds, no matter how small. Tetanus doesn’t discriminate. (By the way, is your tetanus shot up to date?)
  • Don’t be a hero. During flood clean ups, if you need to get out of the water and dry off, do it. At the first sign of skin problems seek medical attention.


There’s no way to stop a hurricane, or a flood, or any other natural disaster.  

The news coming out of Texas and Florida about hurricanes is a painful reminder about that.

With everything else there is to worry about, from evacuation to finding loved ones, it’s important to remember to take care of yourself, and protect your skin as much as possible.

Having a skin reaction? Consult with NYC’s most sought-after dermatologist; make an appointment with TDS on ZocDoc today.