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Am J Infect Control. 2011 Feb;39(1):6-13. doi: 10.1016/j.ajic.2010.03.021. Epub 2010 Jul 21.

A prospective multicenter study evaluating skin tolerance to standard hand hygiene techniques.

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Infection Control Unit, Antoine Lacassagne Cancer Center, 33 Avenue de Valombrose, Nice Cedex 2, France.


We performed a prospective multicenter study to assess the dryness and irritation of the hands in health care facilities, and to evaluate whether that disinfection with an alcohol-based hand rub (ABHR) is better tolerated than classic handwashing with mild soap and water. Our study was conducted in 9 sites in the summer and winter. A team of investigators evaluated dryness and irritation. This study takes into account most of the individual and environmental risk factors (age, sex, use of a protective agent, constitutional factors, personal factors, external factors, institution, function, and number of consecutive working days). The results from the 1932 assessments collected show that traditional handwashing is a risk factor for dryness and irritation, whereas the use of ABHR causes no skin deterioration and might have a protective effect, particularly in intensive use. These results provide a strong argument to counter the rear-guard resistance to the use of ABHRs.

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