Guest Blog by Martie Moore, R.N., MAOM, CPHQ, Chief Nursing Officer, Medline
Recently, a group of labor and delivery nurses were asked: “If your hands could talk, what would they say?” The answers may surprise you.
“Help me! I’m dehydrated!” One nurse reveals.
“They are aging faster than I am. They’re tired, and they hurt and they’re sore,” another nurse says.
The truth is this: Irritated, dry hands have long plagued nurses. According to the CDC, hand hygiene is one of the most important ways to prevent the spread of infections, but it’s also one of our biggest challenges as clinicians.
At times, the constant washing, scrubbing and sanitizing can be a burden on the hands that care for others. Most recently, a study from the University of Manchester reported that clinicians are 4.5 times more likely to suffer from irritant contact dermatitis. Another study found the hands of clinicians are most vulnerable to dry, irritated skin than those of any other professionals.
Ask any nurse in your life what he or she does to soften or maintain the skin’s moisture, and the answers will likely be all over the board. Personally as a nurse, my skin suffered over time and was always irritated; often itchy, dry, or worse, I’d break out in rashes. I tried everything to soothe my hands.
I was able to successfully address my skin irritation, but I was lucky. Some of my colleagues left nursing because their hands were too sensitive to withstand the constant hand washing. It was tragic to see my colleagues lose their ability to do what they love and help care for others because of dry and irritated hands.
Nurses, what’s your story? What would your hands say?
Perhaps these survey results may speak to you. In an informal clinician poll on MedlineUniversity.com, nurses were asked whether skin problems get in the way of hand hygiene compliance. Among the responses:
- Dry and itchy was the top description (44 percent) for hands during a regular shift
- Nearly 46 percent admitted they forgot to wash hands or apply sanitizer before interacting with a patient
- More than 70 percent of those polled say they’d be more compliant if hands felt better
- Fourteen percent of respondents thought about leaving the healthcare field due to dry or irritated hands
- Nurses, know you’re not alone. Proper hand care should be a facility-wide issue that must be addressed.
- Experience a new, innovative glove that’s beginning to resonate with nurses. Medical supplier Medline Industries, Inc. is challenging hospital teams across the U.S. who struggle with dry, irritated hands at work to test out its Restore nitrile exam gloves coated with colloidal oatmeal in their 10-day hand care challenge. The colloidal oatmeal coating between the skin and the glove creates a more comfortable and moisturized home for the caregiver’s hand where sweating and irritation can be common. Among the early results, after a group of nurses were challenged to try the gloves for 10 days, 78 percent said their hands felt soft at work.
- Talk about your hands. If your hands could talk, what would they say? Share your thoughts on social media with the hashtag #RestoreChallenge.
- Know that it’s OK to care for you. Nurses, we endure many physical and emotional moments on the job. But we don’t do enough to take care of ourselves in order to do our jobs. Know that there are ways you can protect your skin. Remember key nutritional tips to maintain your skin, such as eating a variety of fruits and vegetables rich in antioxidants, drinking plenty of water to keep your skin hydrated and increasing omega-3 fatty acid intake.
Do you have skincare tips and advice for other nurses? Share below, help a nurse out!
About The Author:
Martie L. Moore, RN, MAOM, CPHQ, is the Chief Nursing Officer at Medline Industries, Inc. As CNO, Martie develops forward-thinking, solution-driven clinical programs, as well as new products and educational services. Prior to joining Medline, Martie was the chief nursing officer at Providence St. Vincent Medical Center in Portland, Oregon. Moore has nearly 30 years of clinical experience and extensive nurse leadership.