In the health care sector, a structured approach to hand hygiene is essential for preventing infections. Read on for more tips about maintaining hand hygiene standards in the health care sector, from washing, disinfecting to drying and caring for dry hands and nails.
Hand disinfection should be performed when the hands are visibly clean and dry, while hand wash should performed if the hands are visibly soiled or wet. After washing, the hands should be disinfected, since washing with soap and water removes dirt, but does not kill microorganisms.
Hand washing should be performed when the hands are visibly dirty or after using gloves.
It is important to keep the skin intact and prevent rashes and skin irritation, and the best way to do this is to avoid excessive washing with soap and water. Frequent washing with soap and water dries out the skin and increases the risk of skin irritation and dermatitis.
One solution is to use alcohol-based disinfectants as an alternative and supplement, and to only wash the hands when they are visibly dirty. Fatty lotions and moisturizers, or ointments prescribed from a health care professional, can help treat dermatitis caused by hand washing.
Tip: Washing with soap and water removes dirt, but does not kill microorganisms. In the health care sector, hand washing always precedes disinfection when the hands are visibly dirty, have been wet or been in contact with patients.
The temperature of the water affects the soap’s exposure on the skin. The hotter the water, the higher the degreasing effect of the soap on the skin. The water temperature does not otherwise affect the quality of hand washing or the removal of dirt from the hands, although too hot water can damage the skin. The efficiency of the wash is dependent on using the correct handwashing method.
Hands should be dry before applying an alcohol-based disinfectant, since disinfectants increases the skin’s permeability and contributes to breaking down the skins barriers. If the skin’s permeability and suppleness is broken down, the skin can act as a reservoir and entry port for pathogenic microorganisms. For hand disinfection, an alcohol-based agent containing glycerol - Ethanol and isopropyl alcohol is used - Ethanol 70-85% is recommended for liquid hand disinfection and 80-85% for hand disinfectant gel.
Tip: Maintain an intact skin barrier by using a disinfectant with glycerol, which aids in protecting the skin.
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Nothing can replace proper personal hygiene, but gloves and protective wear are essential aids in protecting yourself in the workplace
Wear the correct gloves for all care procedures and change the gloves when they are visibly dirty and whenever leaving the patient or residents room.