Letters Hand hygiene in hospitals

Don’t forget hand care when promoting hand hygiene in hospitals

BMJ 2015; 351 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.h4436 (Published 18 August 2015) Cite this as: BMJ 2015;351:h4436
  1. Kathryn M Campion, consultant occupational health physician1
  1. 1Occupational Health and Wellbeing, Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust, High Wycombe HP12 3RE, UK
  1. kathryn.campion{at}buckshealthcare.nhs.uk

Luangasanatip and colleagues’ interesting review provides a timely opportunity to promote good hand care in healthcare workers as a way to minimise the development of occupational skin disease.1 Skin changes are often seen in healthcare workers, with wet work, soaps, and cleaners being mainly responsible. In 2014, I undertook a survey of occupational skin disease in UK healthcare workers.2 The results provided an estimate (for the first time) of the prevalence of occupational skin disease in UK healthcare workers—20% for clinical staff and 7% for non-clinical staff. I also found significant differences between clinical staff who did or did not report skin symptoms regarding a history of eczema, symptoms, frequent hand washing (defined as >20 times a day), and moisturiser use.

In conclusion, healthcare workers are prone to the development of skin disease for many reasons, including frequent hand washing, which is required for good hand hygiene. Care should be taken to reduce the risk of developing occupational skin disease by using task appropriate gloves only for as long as necessary; washing visibly soiled hands with soap and water; using alcohol gels if the skin is not visibly soiled; and applying moisturiser often, especially at the end of the day.


Cite this as: BMJ 2015;351:h4436


  • Competing interests: None declared.


View Abstract

Log in

Log in through your institution


* For online subscription