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Table of Contents
Year : 2020  |  Volume : 38  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 262-263

Google search trend of the keywords of “hand eczema, itchy face, acne, and dermatologist” after the COVID-19 outbreak

1 Huang PH Dermatology and Aesthetics; Department of Fragrance and Cosmetic Science, Kaohsiung Medical University, Kaohsiung, Taiwan
2 Department of Dermatology, Kaohsiung Chang Gung Memorial Hospital, Chang Gung University College of Medicine, Kaohsiung, Taiwan

Date of Submission06-May-2020
Date of Decision28-May-2020
Date of Acceptance22-Jul-2020
Date of Web Publication16-Dec-2020

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Kwei-Lan Liu
No. 123, Dapi Road, Niaosong District, Kaohsiung City 833
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/ds.ds_37_20

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How to cite this article:
Tsai WC, Liu KL. Google search trend of the keywords of “hand eczema, itchy face, acne, and dermatologist” after the COVID-19 outbreak. Dermatol Sin 2020;38:262-3

How to cite this URL:
Tsai WC, Liu KL. Google search trend of the keywords of “hand eczema, itchy face, acne, and dermatologist” after the COVID-19 outbreak. Dermatol Sin [serial online] 2020 [cited 2022 Dec 3];38:262-3. Available from: https://www.dermsinica.org/text.asp?2020/38/4/262/303702

Dear Editor,

Since the first cases of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) reported in the late 2019, there have been more than 2.5 million patients diagnosed with COVID-19 by the end of April 2020 and the pandemic is ongoing.[1] As COVID-19 spreads around the world, the general population tend to wash hands and wear a face mask more frequently to protect themselves. The behavioral changes might result in some skin problems, which could be reflected in Google searches. Google trend data is a rapid, real-time, and worldwide survey. Google trend data could be a resource to reflect patient interest and behaviors, such as Mohs micrographic surgery, botulinum toxin, and hyaluronic acid fillers in dermatology.[2],[3] We performed Google search for the keywords of some specific skin diseases or symptoms. More specifically, we aimed to examine whether the trends of hand eczema, itchy face, and acne would change with the increasing number of confirmed cases of COVID-19.

We applied Google searches for “hand eczema,” “itchy face,” “acne,” and “dermatologist” during December 1, 2019, to April 20, 2020. The keywords “acne” and “pimples” are equivalent in Google search. A “Google trend” number represents the search interest relative to the highest point for the selected region and time. A value of 100 is the peak popularity of the term, while a value of 50 means that the term is half as popular. Compared to the baseline levels before the pandemic, we found that the Google trend for hand eczema increased by 30%, and the trend of itchy face and acne increased by 20%–30% similarly [Figure 1]a. Interestingly, the Google trend of “dermatologist” dropped for about 50% in the past few weeks [Figure 1]b.
Figure 1: Google search trends of the dermatological keywords after the COVID-19 outbreak. (a) Google trends of skin problems, including “hand eczema,” “acne,” and “itchy face.” (b) Google trends of “dermatologist”

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The search trends of hand eczema, itchy face, and acne could be a reflection of increasing concerns, especially in the USA and Europe. These skin problems may be explained by the awareness of health literacy and the corresponding behaviors, including washing hands and wearing a face mask. Anionic surfactants have a negative impact on the skin barrier function.[4] Prolonged use of personal protective equipment such as a face mask may worsen the symptom of acne and sensitive skin. On the other hand, the Google trend of “dermatologist” decreased, which could be an indicator of motivation to seek dermatological care. The opposite trends of these skin problems and seeking medical help could be a result of self-isolation and decreased human activity after the COVID-19 outbreak. Promotion of social distance and lockdown may also impair patients' willingness to visit a dermatologist. Patients may prefer to perform an internet search for their skin problems rather than to visit a dermatologist.

The impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on people's lives, as well as the behavior of seeking health care in patients with skin problems, is ongoing. As dermatologists, we could make some contributions for this COVID-19 pandemic. First, telemedicine technology for the remote interview and consultation can help patients who are undergoing quarantine. Second, we can provide precise information about these skin problems in media or Internet and raise public concern. The daily practice of worldwide dermatologists may need adjustment during the pandemic.

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Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

  References Top

Coronavirus COVID-19 Global Cases by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University. Available from: https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/map.html. [Last accessed 26-Jun-2020]  Back to cited text no. 1
Callaghan DJ 3rd. Use of Google Trends to Examine Interest in Mohs Micrographic Surgery: 2004 to 2016. Dermatol Surg 2018;44:186-92.  Back to cited text no. 2
Motosko C, Zakhem G, Ho R, Saadeh P, Hazen A. Using Google to trend patient interest in botulinum toxin and hyaluronic acid fillers. J Drugs Dermatol 2018;17:1245-6.  Back to cited text no. 3
Barba C, Semenzato A, Baratto G, Coderch L. Action of surfactants on the mammal epidermal skin barrier. G Ital Dermatol Venereol 2019;154:405-12.  Back to cited text no. 4


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