Winter temperatures can be harsh on skin – especially hands, as they are often more exposed to harsh conditions than other parts of the body. Couple that with the number of times a healthcare worker is required to wash their hands throughout the day, and you’ve got an increased chance of dermatitis.
As one of the most prevalent occupation disorders, occupational dermatitis accounts for nearly 15 percent of workplace injuries.
Dermatitis in healthcare workers not only presents an uncomfortable and often painful problem, but a potentially dangerous one as well. Maintaining healthy hands adds an increased barrier of protection for healthcare workers because damaged skin is vulnerable to the many pathogens in hospital settings.
Not only is dermatitis unsafe for healthcare workers, but it can also place the patient’s safety in jeopardy as well. Unhealthy, chapped, or sore hands may cause healthcare workers to wash their hands less often because it hurts.
One mistake many healthcare workers make when trying to self-remedy dermatitis is applying a consumer-grade hand lotion. Even though these products work well outside of the workplace, their formulations and packaging aren’t designed for use in a healthcare setting. For instance, consumer products aren’t tested for compatibility with certain antibacterial washes (CHG) and rubs as rigorously as a hospital-grade product. Additionally, many common ingredients in consumer lotions contain mineral oil and petrolatum, which have been shown to contribute to latex glove deterioration.
So what can healthcare institutions do to help protect workers?
An important step is to educate healthcare staff about the importance of skin health and the steps they can take to ensure healthy skin. Discussions should focus on which products should and shouldn’t be used and why, the proper techniques for application, and the frequency of use. It is also important to promote the value of restorative creams during winter months, or when hands are sore, chapped or dry. Organizations should also reinforce the importance of hand hygiene and protection in staff meetings, and offer leaflets in break rooms, posters in staff common areas, etc.
Make sure these products are readily available throughout the hospital to encourage proper use. To find compatible hand health products tailored to the needs of your facility, visit DebMed USA or DebMed Canada