Products are often blamed for dermatitis, when in fact it is a breakdown in the process that is often the cause. This is where automation can help. Electronic soap and sanitizer dispensers deliver a consistent amount of product, based on well-studied standards.

Pair dispensers with skin-safe soap, tepid water and, preferably, a touch-free, electronic faucet, and facilities can control the handwashing process. Take it one step further by displaying signage that illustrates the steps to proper hand hygiene:

• Pre-rinse hands.
• Apply soap and scrub vigorously for 15 seconds.
• Dry with a soft, absorbent paper towel.
• Twice per shift, apply a hand cream.

Where water is not readily available apply an emollient-fortified alcohol hand sanitizer selected by clinical data, not alcohol level. Cover hands completely.

Tie these two hand hygiene methods together with an electronic handwashing monitoring system to remind and motivate clinical staff. Even with the frequency at which the staff is washing, the process has been preselected to keep hands clean while also avoiding dermatitis.

If done correctly, cleaning managers can help defeat dermatitis among building occupants. They can do so by selecting hand soaps and sanitizers based on effectiveness and skin health. They can match the situation with the regimen choice. They can promote and illustrate proper handwashing processes. And finally, managers can add process control technology to motivate hand hygiene compliance. 

JIM MANN is the Executive Director & Chief Scientific Officer of The Handwashing Leadership Forum and Handwashing For Life, an alliance of best practice advocates who consistently demonstrate leadership and commitment to lowering the risks of foodborne and person-to-person illness.

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Where Sanitizers Fall Into A Proper Handwashing Program