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Frequent handwashing causes skin irritation for the majority of nurses


Skin irritation due to frequent hand washing and sanitising affects 94 per cent of nurses, according to a recent survey.

Around 340 US nurses took part in a study commissioned by medical supplies manufacturer Medline. They were questioned on a range of topics including skin condition, glove use and employee morale.

A total of 57 per cent of respondents claimed that the condition of their hands influenced the frequency with which they washed or sanitised them. And 79 per cent said the condition of their hands had an impact on their quality of life.

Frequent hand washing and sanitisation are known to lead to dermatitis of the hands according to dermatologist Matthew Zirwas who worked on the study. And he believes that gloves can aggravate the irritation.

“Hand eczema in healthcare workers is much more common than most physicians and hospital executives realise because it is rarely reported by hospital staff unless it reaches an extraordinarily severe level,” he said.

“Healthcare facilities interested in optimising job satisfaction among nursing staff and maximising hand hygiene compliance should choose gloves that optimise the skin health of clinicians who wear them.”

Medline’s chief nursing officer Martie Moore adds that the constant moist and dry environment of gloves can create the perfect scenario for skin breakdown. “Gloves shouldn’t be a means to an end. We need to understand what’s truly happening under the glove so that clinician hands can be healthy,” she said.


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