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"By implementing a hand hygiene


programme that both cleans and cares for hands, compliance levels will rise.”


Protect healing hands


Chris Wakefield, Vice President, European Marketing & Product Development at GOJO Industries-Europe, explains how to protect healthcare workers from occupational skin disorders whilst keeping hands clean and healthy.


The coronavirus crisis has shone a light on the importance of hand hygiene like never before. This is not news to healthcare workers, who typically clean their hands as many as 42 times per shift and up to 15.2 times per hour, in order to provide clean care. After all, good hand hygiene has been proven to reduce the spread of healthcare associated infections (HCAIs) by up to 50%, as well as lower the risk of antimicrobial resistance.


Yet research shows that, pre-pandemic certainly, not all hospital or healthcare staff were washing or sanitising their hands as often as they should. Self-reported reasons for poor adherence ranged from having insufficient time, to the patient’s needs taking priority, but according to the World Health Organization (WHO), the most common obstacle when it comes to good hand hygiene technique amongst healthcare professionals, is skin irritation.


Some believe that hospital-grade soaps and sanitisers will cause skin irritation and dryness, whilst others with pre- existing issues, such as dermatitis, are concerned that frequent handwashing will aggravate their condition further. Given that 60–70% of women and 50–60% of men consider themselves to have sensitive skin, and combined with the frequency that healthcare workers should wash or sanitise their hands, occupational skin health must be taken seriously when installing or enhancing a hand hygiene programme.


Firstly, the choice of product is key. Formulations should be gentle to skin, yet effective against germs. Choose soaps or sanitisers whose efficacy against germs has been proven through independent scientific testing and conform to key hospital norms EN 1500, EN 14476 and EN 12791. This provides assurance that they are safe for use in healthcare settings.


Secondly, healthcare workers should ensure they only use one measure of soap or sanitiser at a time – many


(https://www.who.int/gpsc/5may/tools/who_guidelines-handhygiene_summary.pdf


(https://www.nes.scot.nhs.uk/media/3156379/hand_dermatitis_pocket_guide.pdf). (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6533878/) (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4266809/).


44 | HEALTHCARE HYGIENE twitter.com/TomoCleaning


mistakenly believe that doubling the dose offers twice the protection, which is not the case.


What’s more, using too much soap takes longer to wash off, and the next important step to avoid irritation is to ensure that all soap is rinsed away. Skin must be thoroughly dried too – many don’t realise that water is a potential irritant, which may penetrate relatively easily through the outermost layer of the skin (stratum corneum). Frequent exposure to water causes swelling and shrinking of the stratum corneum, and can lead to dermatitis.


Hygienic hand rubs can also provide another level of protection in addition to washing hands. Where skin is not visibly soiled, the WHO recommends healthcare professionals choose sanitising gel as an alternative to soap and water. PURELL Hand Sanitising Gels are trusted by the NHS and are clinically proven to maintain skin health.


The last step in a hand hygiene regime is: moisturise, moisturise, moisturise. Using moisturisers frequently will rehydrate and replenish oils in the skin, helping to decrease the risk of skin shedding, which can cause further irritation. Unfragranced and silicone-free, GOJO HAND MEDIC Professional Skin Conditioner is quickly absorbed into skin, helping to maintain its natural protective barrier, and to prevent dry, damaged hands.


Finally, it’s important to remember that improving the health of workers’ skin is not just about relieving discomfort. Damaged, cracked skin, caused by irritation, is more susceptible to colonisation by transient micro-organisms. This, in turn, increases the risk for transfer of potentially pathogenic micro-organisms to a susceptible patient.


By implementing a hand hygiene programme that both cleans and cares for hands, compliance levels will rise, whilst the rates of HCAIs will fall.


www.gojo.com


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