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Hand Hygiene: Infection Control/Exposure Control Issues for Oral Healthcare Workers

Géza T. Terézhalmy, DDS, MA; Michaell A. Huber, DDS

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The term hand hygiene is a general term that applies to (1) handwashing (2) hand antisepsis, and (3) surgical hand antisepsis.1  Products used for hand hygiene in healthcare settings represent various types of detergents (i.e., surfactants; the term “soaps” is often used to refer to such detergents).  Detergents are compounds that possess cleaning action and are composed of both hydrophilic and lipophilic parts.  An antimicrobial soap is a soap that contains an antiseptic agent.  Antiseptic agents (e.g., alcohols, chlorhexidine, iodophors, chlorhexidine, hexachlorophene, chloroxylenol, triclosan, quaternary ammonium compounds, and others) are substances that are applied to the skin to reduce the microbial flora.

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