Healthcare Hand Washing Leads to Increased Dermatitis

Feb. 18, 2015

Best practices for infection prevention linked to hand irritation.

In the rush to contain infections such as MRSA, the increased focus on hand washing in healthcare environments such as hospitals or nursing facilities has led to an increase in incidences of dermatitis. Research from the University of Manchester that analyzed the years between 1996 and 2012 showed that healthcare workers were 4.5 times more likely to suffer from irritant contact dermatitis in 2012 as they were in 1996.

While the efforts have resulted in a marked decline in the infections targeted, the researchers point to evidence that infections can last longer on damaged and broken skin as reason to be concerned about the rising rates of dermatitis. Additionally, the fact that skin irritation can cause people to wait longer between hand washing sessions are offered as further evidence that healthcare facility professionals should take a more active role in choosing infection control products that are safe for hands while remaining tough on germs.

“Obviously we don’t want people to stop washing their hands, so more needs to be done to procure less irritating products and implement practices to prevent and treat irritant contact dermatitis,” says Dr. Jill Stocks, head researcher on the project. 

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