Lauren Rigby, a 22-year-old training to be a vet nurse, was one of many lives dramatically changed by the coronavirus pandemic.

But not in the same way as everyone else.

After a seemingly innocent trip to her local shops, Lauren’s life was thrown into disarray as she noticed a rash forming on her hands.

“They were saying please use hand sanitiser so I just put a little bit on and it started burning,” she said.

“I asked mum ‘are your hands burning’? she said, ‘no’.”

In the following weeks, Lauren developed severe eczema, which was impacting her everyday life.

“I started noticing at the shops they were spraying disinfectant, even on the clothes, and then I noticed my body was covered in a rash after trying on clothes,” she said.

Her fragile skin started to peel off and her hair began to fall out, as her body had an extreme reaction.

Image credits: Channel 9 – A Current Affair

“I was so swollen that it if you touched my arm it would leave a dent and my skin peeled off into piles that we had to vacuum up,” Ms Rigby said.

Lauren was hospitalised after her eczema triggered a genetic condition called Erythroderma, all caused by hand sanitiser.

More than 12 months on, Lauren has a strict skincare regiment that is helping to slowly bring her eczema under control.

“How can something so tiny change my life,” she said.

“I’ve never used hand sanitiser this year and I’ll never use it again.”

Melanie Funk from Eczema Support Australia said there had been an increase of people seeking help during the COVID-19 period.

“Certainly hand eczemas and facial eczemas are increasing with the pandemic measures,” she said.

“You shouldn’t suffer in silence, there are others that understand, get support, get help, get treatment.”

Image credits: Channel 9 – A Current Affair

This article first appeared on Over60.