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Do you need to wash your hands after removal of gloves?

  • Comments (4)

Do you need to wash your hands after removal of gloves? What do you think?

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence has updated infection control guidance originally published in 2003.

The guidance reiterates that hands must be decontaminated immediately before and after every episode of direct contact with patients, after any exposure to body fluids and after contact with a patient’s surroundings that could potentially result in hands being contaminated.

The new version of the guidelines also advises that nurses should decontaminate hands with liquid soap and water, as opposed to handrub, in clinical situations where there is potential for the spread of alcohol-resistant organisms, such as C difficile or other organisms that cause diarrhoeal illness.

This also applies to circumstances when hands are visibly soiled or potentially contaminated with body fluids. In all other situations, NICE said handrub should preferably be used to decontaminate hands.

  • Comments (4)

Readers' comments (4)

  • Speaking as the Technical Manager of the largest examnation glove supplier to the NHS, as well as a UK expert on the committees that write the European standard for gloves, there are a number of important reasons to wash your hands after glove use.

    Firstly, gloves are not guaranteed to be hole free. Without getting into the reasons up to 1.5% of examination gloves can have a hole and this is accepted as a reasonable standard for use (that is what the AQL 1.5 means printed on the box). You could make them with less holes but they would cost a great deal more and this level has been found to be perfectly adequate in the many decades of their use.

    Secondly, most examination gloves contain materials that are known to cause allergies in some genetically predisposed individuals. Whilst wearing the gloves the allergens can migrate to the skin where they can gradually sensitise indiviudals, ultimately leading to allergic reaction. If you leave them there, or use an alcohol hand wash (which will not physically remove them) then your risk of sensitisation is increased. Only the use of soap and running water will remove them from the skin entirely.

    Finally, it is worth noting that gloves should be removed after a single task to prevent cross contamination and should not be worn when performing tasks that have no risk of infection. The less you wear gloves the less your allergy risk and the less risk you face due to skin damage through excessive occlusion or maceration.

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  • Anonymous

    As a nurse I am aware that non sterile gloves can have microscopic holes in them, therefore there is a need to wash hands after wearing them. Having said that, in the community I have visited homes where it was deemed safer NOT to wash one's hands!

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  • Anonymous

    I have always washed my hands before and after glove usage and will continue to make my own decisions thanks.

    If I worked in the community and visited homes where it seemed imprudent to wash my hands I would make sure I had gloves with the best protection and adequate disinfection in my bag or car and then wait until I was somewhere where I could wash them properly and safely! but fortunately this is not my case although it is sometimes the same in public places using handrails, door handles, public loos, etc. and then going and buying a sandwich or an ice cream.

    During the bird 'flu epidemic a few years ago after coming off a train I went straight to the chemist and bought a small bottle of disinfectant gel but then still decided to go to a café for a coffee and a good wash before going and buying my sandwich!

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  • Definitely need to wash after glove removal. Sometimes hands get so warm inside gloves and sweat too.

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