Healthy skin on the hands of healthcare workers is vital in the battle against infections.

Despite this necessity, it’s apparently considered reasonable for a quarter of healthcare workers to suffer from Occupational Dermatitis on their hands. The primary focus has been on these people using strong antimicrobial hand hygiene products with little regard for how these products adversely affect the skin on the hands.

The most common chemicals in hand hygiene products are chlorhexidine and alcohol. Both remove vital fats from skin, resulting in skin dryness. When dry skin results from hand hygiene products provided by employers, they often provide their employees with hand creams and moisturisers.

Using peer-reviewed medical evidence, we’ve shown how applying such products to dry skin can lead to Atopic Eczema. In healthcare workers, this is often called Chronic Hand Eczema. The sequence from normal skin to eczema is presented in our digital product Explain Eczema, which is available on execzema.com.

To avoid dry skin on the hands, we provide hand hygiene products which allow the skin to heal itself. A ‘cure’ for this form of dermatitis was unnecessary as inflammation does not occur when the causative ingredients are no longer applied.

It was important to have a hand rub for use when away from a tap. That rub had to contain no alcohol.

It was equally important to have hand washes, one for general cleansing and another for antimicrobial action. It is common for different brands to be used to achieve these two purposes and it is also common for the ingredients in the cleansing product to inactivate the active substance in the antimicrobial product. We overcame that by ensuring these two products were actually the same product, with only a colour difference to differentiate them.

We ‘dialled in the people’ by providing hand hygiene products which left a silky feel to the skin.  People willingly use them to gain that positive feedback loop of wonderful skin.