Caring for the Hands that Care for Others
Submitted by Linda Rankin, coordinator, health promotion & psychological safety, Occupational Health & Safety
Health promotion encompasses healthy living, physical and mental wellbeing and is a key priority under the People strategy. Healthy staff result in better quality patient and resident experience.
Healthcare workers clean their hands many times per shift. Hand hygiene is considered the single most important intervention to prevent the spread of healthcare-associated infection and intact skin is the body’s first line of defense against infection. Approximately 30% of healthcare providers report symptoms or signs of dermatitis involving their hands according to the 2012 B.C. Ministry of Health publication. Hand-care is important in maintaining and promoting skin integrity and World Hand Hygiene Day on May 5 is a good time to look at your hands and hand-care practices.
80% of dermatitis is irritant contact dermatitis (ICD). Some common factors that may contribute to ICD are:
- Hot water
- Wet work
- Failure to use lotions
- Putting on gloves when your hands are wet
- Rubbing hands instead of blotting when drying with paper towel
Having a regular hand-care regime will help you maintain skin integrity. Tips for good skin include:
- Water and Soap or Hand Sanitizer? - Hand sanitizer is the recommended choice. The reason is that hand washing with water and soap disturbs the lipid layer of the skin, as it is washed off from the hands and thus creates a deeper impact on the skin barrier compared to the alcohol in hand sanitizers. (Important Note: Infection control has defined when you must use soap and water to wash your hands)
- If using soap, choose a mild soap, use a pearl size amount to avoid extra time under the water, use warm water and PAT dry with paper towel. (Hot or cold water damages your skin.)
- If you have Eczema try a soap-free wash at home. (Ask for them in your preferred store)
- Use a moisturizing lotion each time to minimize the occurrence of ICD (avoid barrier creams which may exacerbate irritation rather than provide benefit)
- Regularly check your hands for changes and problem areas and seek treatment
- Ensure your hands are dry when you put on gloves
- Protect your hands from the cold during the winter
Do you have questions or need help with dermatitis, skin care or glove concerns? Find answers on OH&S intranet page.
If you are interested in learning more about hand care, visit the new Hand Care Module on CCRS developed by the Hand Care Specialist at Fraser Health.
Look for the PHC IPAC team to be out and about at St. Paul's tomorrow with their trivia wheel, chocolates and updated precautions cards for your lanyards. Find out more.
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