Every year around 1,000 health care workers develop work-related contact dermatitis of the hands. While this may not seem like a large number, it is a painful, debilitating condition which may require nursing staff to be moved out of clinical areas due to the risk of infection.
The RCN’s Glove Awareness Week, which runs from 29 April to 3 May, gives nursing staff and other health care workers the opportunity to think about when they should and shouldn’t wear gloves. It also highlights what they can do to reduce the risk of damage to their hands.
Rose Gallagher, RCN Professional Lead for Infection Prevention and Control, said: “All those who work in health care have a responsibility for caring for our patients but we also have a responsibility for looking after ourselves and that can start with being glove aware.
“Ensuring gloves are worn in appropriate circumstances is equally as important as considering when not to wear them.”
Every year the NHS spends over £35 million on more than 1.5 billion boxes of examination gloves and yet too often their use is unnecessary. Their overuse can actually lead to poor hand hygiene and increase the risk of infection.
To support nurses in becoming more glove aware, the RCN has produced a series of resources including posters, leaflets and a selfie-board.
Rose added: “Using gloves should not be seen as a replacement for good hand hygiene. With proper hand washing and moisturising along with appropriate use of gloves we can look after our hands as well as preventing the spread of infections.
“If we don’t’ look after our hands we may not be able to look after our patients and ultimately risk long-term damage to our hands which in some cases can be life-long damage.”