Journal Article

Skin Hygiene and Infection Prevention: More of the Same or Different Approaches?

Elaine Larson

in Clinical Infectious Diseases

Published on behalf of Infectious Diseases Society of America

Volume 29, issue 5, pages 1287-1294
Published in print November 1999 | ISSN: 1058-4838
Published online November 1999 | e-ISSN: 1537-6591 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1086/313468
Skin Hygiene and Infection Prevention: More of the Same or Different Approaches?

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The purpose of this article is to review research indicating a link between hand hygiene and nosocomial infections and the effects of hand care practices on skin integrity and to make recommendations for potential changes in clinical practice and for further research regarding hand hygiene practices. Despite some methodological flaws and data gaps, evidence for a causal relationship between hand hygiene and reduced transmission of infections is convincing, but frequent handwashing causes skin damage, with resultant changes in microbial flora, increased skin shedding, and risk of transmission of microorganisms, suggesting that some traditional hand hygiene practices warrant reexamination. Some recommended changes in practice include use of waterless alcohol-based products rather than detergent-based antiseptics, modifications in lengthy surgical scrub protocols, and incorporation of moisturizers into skin care regimens of health care professionals.

Journal Article.  6532 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Infectious Diseases ; Immunology ; Public Health and Epidemiology ; Microbiology

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