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Br J Nurs. 2007 Sep 13-27;16(16):976-81.

Skin care: an essential component of hand hygiene and infection control.

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NHS Tayside, Trust Offices, Royal Dundee Liff Hospital, Dundee.


Skin care is an important component of hand hygiene and also infection prevention education programmes relating to hand hygiene (Bissett, 2007a,b). Hand hygiene is the term commonly used to describe hand washing using plain soap or antiseptic soaps and hand rubbing using waterless antiseptic products or alcohol-based products. The importance of effective hand hygiene is well documented (Larson, 1997; Boyce et al, 2002; Horton and Parker, 2002) and can be achieved by following the six-step technique used for hand washing as illustrated by the Royal College of Nursing (2000). During hand washing, hand soaps not only remove soils, but also the natural oils that protect the skin. This can vary depending on the frequency of hand washing, the temperature of the water and the ability of the soap to be rinsed from the surface of the hands (Starobin, 2007). This article aims to examine the evidence available to enable healthcare staff to make an informed decision on the importance of following a skin care regime to reduce the risk of bacterial loading on the hands caused by damaged skin. This would consequently lead to an improvement in hand hygiene efficacy.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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