It is important to avoid such side effects of frequent hand washing, in part because they can reduce compliance and also because fissures and lesions on damaged hands are more susceptible to colonization by microorganisms, thereby fostering transmission. Multiple steps can be taken to minimize skin irritation associated with hand hygiene.
- First, a hand-friendly hygiene agent should be readily available. Alcohol-based hand rubs containing emollients are better tolerated by health care personnel than plain soap or antimicrobial soap alone.
- Second, health care workers need to be reminded of the value of regular frequent use of hand-care products such as hand lotions or creams. In one study at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wis, scheduled use of an oil-containing lotion improved skin condition and led to a 50% increase in hand
washing frequency among health care personnel who initially suffered from long-standing hand irritation.
- Routine hand washing with soap and water after using an alcohol-based rub can lead to dermatitis and should be avoided.
Hand Hygiene Lisa R. Delaney, and Richard B. Gunderman Radiology 2008;246:15-19