- © Photo by Julia Ivantsova
The CDC has a Guideline for Hand Hygiene in Health-Care Settings (.PDF) and it certainly is worth reading several times. 5 Stars
There have been several investigations studying how organisms can be transferred from the moist skin of patients to catheters, despite thorough hand washing with soap and hot water.
Why Aren’t Bacteria Being Killed by Soap?
Possible reasons why deadly bacteria survived washing with soap:
- Bacteria may have been resistant to alcohol sanitizers or water solutions of microbial soap.
- Pathogens were under the fingernails and the fingertips, protected by fingernails, and the edges of the cuticles.
Another study was done examining the effectiveness of hand washing to remove microflora from natural nails vs. artificial nails and the results showed that 86% of health care workers with artificial nails still had pathogens after hand washing versus 36% of health care workers with natural nails.
It was proven that wearing artificial nails in hospital settings is more dangerous than having natural nails. The studies reveal that by using the best hand washing techniques, artificial fingernails help more pathogens survive than natural nails.
My mom, a surgical nurse for 44 years, would complain about women with long nails, just rinsing their hands with no soap and lightly patting them dry with a paper towel. She seldom complained about anything so I guess she was ahead of her time in recognizing the dangers posed by long fingernails.
One solution for those who are determined to wear long fingernails is to vigorously brush nails with a nailbrush, on top and underneath. The most common culprits are colonies of hepatitis A, norovirus, E. Coli 0157: H7, listeria, MRSA, and salmonella. These are what we’re up against!
If you have long fingernails always using a nailbrush!
Public Restroom Enemy #1 Norovirus
Norovirus can be transmitted via fecal matter to fingers to food to ingestion. Anyone preparing food must be aware that every year (CDC study estimates) Norovirus does cause:
- 20 million acute cases of gastroenteritis
- 56,000-71,ooo hospitalizations
- 570-800 deaths
- 58% of acquired foodborne illnesses in the U.S.
To clean your fingernails properly use an effective nailbrush as follows:
- With fused bristles, which allow for thorough cleaning,
- DOES NOT have bristles stapled to the base, as germs can gather there.
- Should be non-absorbent and flexible.
- Stiff, sturdy and strong enough to really scrub your nails top and bottom.
Have several nailbrushes at home and one at every sink and tub. Always carry one in your purse inside a plastic container with holes for ventilation.
The Bottom Line
Even if you scrub your hands with hot water and soap for 20 seconds you can still have fingertips that can put others in danger. You can infect any surfaces or food you touch and potentially other people with deadly consequences.
Bacterium grows exponentially and some actually double in quantity every 20 minutes. Start out with 100 bacteria beneath one fingernail, in 20 minutes you’ll have 200, in another 20 minutes = 400 and in an hour’s time you’ll have 800 under your fingernail. This will just keep going hour after hour. In 5 hours time, you can actually have 3,276,800 bacteria under 1 fingernail.
Bacterial colonies need food to survive, so when we touch surfaces like dirt, fibers, toilets, faucet handles, ATM keypads, cell phones, gas pump handles we pick up bacteria AND we also leave it behind. WE MUST KEEP OUR HANDS CLEAN AND THE ITEMS WE TOUCH.
Our nailbrush may be our best weapon against the spread of disease. We need to think of this as our woman’s warrior weapon (WWW) and make sure we use it religiously and that our family members do too.
We must think about the health of others:
- Weakened immune systems
- Senior citizens
- Babies and young children
- People who are already ill
Many people can be vulnerable to illnesses and why risk anyone’s health by allowing pathogens to be transferred to them by human hands, or by them touching a contaminated surface.
I’m sure we all wish the medical findings in this article weren’t true. Anyone of us could be a host of dangerous pathogenic colonies just waiting to infect everyone we touch, but if we all do everything we can, it will add to the health and safety of everyone we come in contact with.
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