RCN warns about contact dermatitis from hand washing
Dermatitis cases among nurses have become increasingly common because health workers are forced to repeatedly wash their hands to prevent the spread of infection, the Royal College of Nursing has warned.
The college is developing guidance on how to prevent contact dermatitis after it emerged that many nurses in Scotland were suffering from the painful skin condition.
Some nurses at Raigmore Hospital in Inverness have had to be put on restrictive duties because the condition was preventing them from working at full capacity.
Hospital staff in Scotland are bound by policy to wash their hands between tasks and patients in order to avoid spreading infections like MRSA and C difficile.
The policy appears to be working as hospital acquired infections are the lowest they have ever been in Scotland, but the guidelines are having a detrimental effect on some nurses’ skin.
Consultant occupational physician for NHS Highland, Dr Steven Ryder, said: “Dermatitis is a common condition in the general population. Naturally, on occasions, we see nurses and other healthcare workers with dermatitis.
“Most cases are as a result of exposure to irritant factors, such as water, soap and detergents, alcohol gel and glove wear. With good hand care most resolve.”
A spokeswoman for RCN Scotland said the college’s guidance would be published next year.