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Researchers discover new handwash to cut hospital infections

Researchers at the University of Hertfordshire have found that a new antiseptic handwash could halt the spread of hospital infections.

Professor Marc Brown, Chair in Pharmaceutics at the University of Hertfordshire who led the research will present his findings at the British Pharmaceutical Conference (BPC) in Manchester on Monday 4 September.

Research shows that healthcare workers only wash their hands 40% of the time they actually should to maintain hygiene1. Researchers believe that this is because commonly used hand-washing products contain alcohols, preservatives, colouring agents, fragrances or disinfectants that irritate the skin, causing dermatitis.

One solution is to introduce lotions that are usually used for the treatment of dry skin conditions. But, are these dry-skin lotions effective in combating the spread of infection?

Professor Brown worked with MedPharm to test the effectiveness of Dermol 500 Lotion2, usually used in the management of dry skin conditions, especially atopic dermatitis, to see if it would kill micro-organisms that cause infections in hospitals.

Volunteers had their hands contaminated with the micro-organism E.coli and then washed their hands with Dermol 500 Lotion. The hand wash was found to be effective at removing E.coli after one wash.

Taking these results, the research team then looked at published hand disinfection studies and found that Dermol 500 Lotion achieved better removal of bacteria from the hands than most other products published in the literature. The only products that they found to be comparable were pre-operative surgical scrubs, or products with high concentrations of alcohol and/or disinfectants.

Professor Brown says, “It is known that regular hand washing between procedures and between patients reduces the risk of hospital-acquired infections. But dermatitis, caused by hand-wash products, is currently deterring staff from carrying out the simple procedure of washing their hands regularly.”

Dr Rob Turner, Head of Microbiology at Medpharm says that Dermol 500 Lotion has the bonus of not being an irritant, and is proven to be excellent at removing bacteria.

Helene Murphy | alfa
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