Q&A

What is the health issue with nurses wearing enhancements?

Q.

I have several clients who are nurses, and the hospitals they work at have put policies in place stating they can no longer have artificial nails because of the bacteria that can be held under the nails. Is there a real possibility that this is a health issue? And wouldn’t the same bacteria be under natural nails?

A.

You’re correct. The same types of bacteria exist everywhere, not just on artificial or natural nails. Cracked or chipped nail polish can also harbor bacteria if the hands aren’t properly cleansed.

The CDC recommends thoroughly scrubbing with liquid soap and running water for 30 seconds after every patient. But across America, these practices are regularly ignored by hospital workers. This is the real problem — hospital workers aren’t complying with “existing” hand-washing regulations. Then why are some hospitals blaming fingernails? Because it’s easier than addressing the real issue. — Doug Schoon is vice president of science and technology for Creative Nail Design (Vista, Calif.). 

Ed note: Following improper hand washing is definitely a key factor. In the past in hospital studies, it’s been documented that the length of nails, regardless of whether they’re natural or artificial, are more likely to harbor bacteria than short nails.

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