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Hand Hygiene
By: Oroclean Chemi AG
Wash, disinfect, and care – there are many aspects to hand hygiene. That makes it all the more important to properly execute all the procedural steps in order to ensure a complete disinfection and avoid skin irritations. Not only are hands the most significant means of germ transmission, but they are also the most important “equipment” in the dental practice.

Wash, disinfect, care?

Hands are the most significant path of transmission for pathogenic microorganisms. They cause 80% of all cross infection between humans.1 If hands come into contact with patients or contaminated materials (dirt, blood, pus, saliva, feces, or other materials such as surfaces or instruments), germs can land on the skin and eventually be transmitted to other people – either through a wound, or if the contaminated hands come into contact with the eyes or mouth.
Hands are not only a major instrument of transmission, they are also the most important tool of every dentist. For this reason, hand hygiene is one of the most fundamental protective measures for preventing the spread of diseases. Hand hygiene protects both the patient and the dental staff.

To non-professionals, the term “hand hygiene,” often means little more than washing one’s hands with water and soap. Naturally, this is not sufficient for the medical professional. Washing one’s hands, even with antiseptic, anti-bacterial soap, is never enough to remove germs from the skin to a sufficient degree. Consistent disinfection of the hands is absolutely essential.

For employees’ long term protection against infection, it is equally important to consistently care for and nurture the hands. Constant washing and disinfection of the hands, along with the wearing of gloves, can severely damage the skin. The hands become dry, cracked, or swollen, leading to dermatosis, after which only a limited disinfection is possible. Damaged skin burns when disinfected, which could result in neglected hand hygiene – yet another safety risk. For these reasons, the skin requires care and nurturing.

Hand hygiene is a complex process, which is comprised of three steps.
•    Hand washing
•    Hand disinfection
•    Hand care