A close look at alcohol gel as an antimicrobial sanitizing agent


      Background: Hand transmission of microbes by health care workers is a primary cause of nosocomial infections in both long-term and acute care facilities. Compliance with effective handwashing and hand sanitization regimens can break this cycle. Methods: We investigated the antimicrobial efficacy and irritation potential of 5 handwash product regimens: a nonantimicrobial lotion soap, an antimicrobial lotion soap, an alcohol gel sanitizer, a nonantimicrobial lotion soap with an alcohol gel sanitizer, and an antimicrobial lotion soap with an alcohol gel sanitizer. The regimens were evaluated by using a Healthcare Personnel Handwash procedure, and irritation was assessed by using expert hand evaluation after 25 consecutive washes. Results: The Healthcare Personnel Handwash data showed that the mean log reductions from baseline were greatest for the lotion soaps with alcohol gel sanitizer, less for the alcohol and the antimicrobial soap alone, and least for the bland soap. All of the product regimens showed a low potential for skin irritation. Conclusion: In terms of both microorganism reduction and skin irritation, the most effective product regimens were the use of alcohol gel sanitizer in combination with either an antimicrobial or a plain lotion soap. (AJIC Am J Infect Control 1999;27:332-8)
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