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Use of Lotions and Moisturizers in Skin Care

Armen Hareyan's picture

Moisturizing is beneficial for skin health and reducing microbial dispersion from skin, regardless of whether the product used contains an antibacterial ingredient. Because of differences in the content and formulations of lotions and creams, products vary greatly in their effectiveness. Lotions used with products containing chlorhexidine gluconate must be carefully selected to avoid neutralization by anionic surfactants. The role of emollients and moisturizers in improving skin health and reducing microbial spread is an area for additional research.

To improve the skin condition of health-care professionals and reduce their chances of harboring and shedding microorganisms from the skin, the following measures are recommended:

  • For damaged skin, mild, nonantimicrobial skin cleansing products may be used to remove dirt and debris. If antimicrobial action is needed (e.g., before invasive procedures or handling of highly susceptible patients) a waterless, alcohol-based product may be used.

  • In clinical areas such as the operating room and neonatal and transplant units, shorter, less traumatic washing regimens may be used instead of lengthy scrub protocols with brushes or other harsh mechanical action.

  • Effective skin emollients or barrier creams may be used in skin-care regimens and procedures for staff (and possibly patients as well).

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  • Skin moisturizing products should be carefully assessed for compatibility with any topical antimicrobial products being used and for physiologic effects on the skin.

From the public health perspective, more frequent use of current hygiene practices may not necessarily be better (i.e., perhaps sometimes clean is "too clean"), and the same recommendations cannot be applied to all users or situations. Future investigation is likely to improve understanding of the interaction between skin physiology, microbiology, and ecology and the role of the skin in the transmission of infectious diseases.


Dr. Larson is professor of pharmaceutical and therapeutic research, The School of Nursing, and professor of epidemiology, Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University. She is editor of the American Journal of Infection Control and former chair of the Healthcare Infection Control Practices Advisory Committee (HICPAC) and member of CDC's National Center for Infectious Diseases Board of Scientific Counselors. Address for correspondence: Elaine Larson, Columbia University School of Nursing, 630 W. 168th St., New York, NY 10032, USA; fax: 212-305-0722; e-mail: [email protected]

The source of this article is http://www.cdc.gov



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