The Importance of Moisturizing in Hand Hygiene Programs

Preserving Skin Integrity and Improving Compliance in Healthcare Settings

By: Richard Rich

Hand hygiene is an essential aspect of infection control in the healthcare setting. Proper hand hygiene protocols must be consistently followed by healthcare workers (HCWs) in order to reduce the transmission of pathogenic microorganisms and prevent healthcare-associated infections. There are various hand hygiene products available, including alcohol-based hand rubs, antimicrobial soaps, and chlorhexidine, each with their own unique characteristics and effectiveness.

One important factor to consider when choosing a hand hygiene product is its active ingredient. While alcohol-based hand rubs are widely used due to their rapid action, broad-spectrum antimicrobial activity, and ease of use, they can be drying and irritating to the skin, leading to decreased compliance among HCWs. Alternative hand hygiene products that can be less irritating to the skin include those that use benzalkonium chloride as the active ingredient, chlorhexidine gluconate (CHG), or other antimicrobials. Another option is to use hand hygiene products that contain emollients to help preserve the skin. However, the best way to maintain healthy skin while still performing effective hand hygiene is to not change the hand washing or sanitizing routine, but to add a moisturizing lotion or cream after each hand hygiene session.

Skin irritation and dryness are common problems associated with frequent handwashing and can lead to non-compliance with hand hygiene protocols. It is important for HCWs to maintain the integrity of their skin in order to prevent these issues. One way to do this is by using hand lotions or creams to prevent or minimize skin dryness and irritation caused by irritant contact dermatitis. These products can be applied after each handwashing or after using an alcohol-based hand rub. It is important to choose an acceptable lotion or cream that will not interfere with the antimicrobial activity of the hand hygiene product being used.

Lotions and creams can be an important component of a hand hygiene program in a hospital setting, as they can help to prevent or minimize skin dryness and irritation caused by frequent handwashing and the use of antiseptic agents. However, it is important for these products to be compatible with the various antiseptic agents commonly used in hospitals. Alcohol-based hand rubs, chlorhexidine gluconate (CHG), and other antimicrobial agents are commonly used in healthcare facilities to reduce the transmission of pathogenic microorganisms. The use of lotions or creams that interfere with the effectiveness of these agents can hinder the overall effectiveness of the hand hygiene program.

One way to ensure compatibility is to choose lotions or creams that are formulated specifically for use with antiseptic agents. These products may contain ingredients such as emollients that help to preserve the skin while still allowing the antiseptic to work effectively. It is also important to select lotions or creams that are compatible with the specific antiseptic being used. For example, some products may be compatible with alcohol-based hand rubs, but not with CHG or other antimicrobial agents.

In addition to compatibility with antiseptic agents, it is also important for lotions and creams to be compatible with personal protective equipment (PPE) such as gloves. The use of lotions or creams that contain ingredients such as lanolins or mineral oils can weaken or degrade gloves, making them less effective at protecting the user. It is important to choose products that are compatible with PPE in order to maintain their effectiveness and protect the user.

Finally, it is important to consider the potential for cross contamination when selecting a lotion or cream for use in a hospital setting. The use of products that contain preservatives or are antibacterial can help to prevent the growth of microorganisms and reduce the risk of cross contamination. It is important to choose products that do not have the potential to cross contaminate and that are effective at killing germs.

It is essential for hospitals to choose lotions that are compatible with the antiseptic products being used, including surgical antiseptics for health care personnel hand washes, health care personnel hand rubs, surgical hand scrubs, surgical hand rubs, and patient antiseptic skin preparations. By properly moisturizing the skin and preventing irritation, hospitals can improve compliance with hand hygiene protocols and ultimately reduce the risk of healthcare-associated infections.