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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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Before making purchasing decisions evaluate the dispenser system to make sure that it functions reliably, delivers an appropriate volume of the product, and that the dispenser for alcohol-based formulations is approved for flammable materials.  The cost of hand hygiene products should not be the primary factor influencing product selection; however, it of note that the routine use of an alcohol-based handrub is more cost effective than the use of an antimicrobial soap and water.31

When selecting a plain (non-antimicrobial) soap, an antimicrobial soap, or an alcohol-based handrub solicit information from manufacturers regarding any known interactions between hand hygiene products; skin care products; the type of gloves used in the healthcare setting; and the risk of contaminating the product.  Hand care products should be stored in disposable/reusable closed containers.  Never “top off” partially empty soap dispensers as it can lead to bacterial contamination of the content.

HCP should be provided with efficacious hand hygiene products that have low irritability potential and with compatible hand lotions to minimize the occurrence of irritant contact dermatitis.  To maximize acceptance of hand hygiene products solicit input from HCP regarding fragrance (smell), consistency (“feel”), skin tolerance, and color.  Formulations with strong fragrances may be poorly tolerated by HCP and patients with respiratory allergies.

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