artificial nails vs bloody bitten nails

  1. Are there any studies to show that infection rates dropped once artificial nails were banned. Isn't the length of the nails more important than whether or not they are fake? I am a nail biter and when I don't have acrylic nails I bite below the quick till they bleed. This seems to be more of an infection risk than manicured, well kept artificial nails. My acrylic nails are less than 1/4 inch. I have not found one study showing decrease in nosocomial infections following an artificial nail ban. I did find that the original study was based on 40 people, it found increase in bacteria but not increase in the spread of infection. And in the NICU infection study, it was due to glove ruptures from long artificial nails. I just want some facts if anyone can help. Thanks
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  2. 36 Comments

  3. by   Katnip
    Maybe you just need to work on the nail biting habit. After all there were nurses long before there were acrylics.

    There have been huge debates on this forum before. The upshot is, it's not the nails, it's the glue and the fungus that tends to grow under the nails no matter how careful the wearer is.
  4. by   SFCardiacRN
    I don't have any studies, however, the infection rate dropped in a surgery suite I worked in once artificial nails were banned. It was not just the number of infections but the type that lead to the ban. We were getting fecal coliforms that completely disappeared after the ban. Only anecdotal but convincing to me.
  5. by   fergus51
    I don't know if studies have been done showing the drop in infection rates. I do know that studies have shown that artificial nails harbor organisms that real nails don't. Period. It doesn't matter how well manicured they are. It doesn't matter how crappy your real nails look. Unless you can find some studies proving that fake nails DON"T harm people, you are unlikely to change the policy of your institution. Even in NICUs, we don't use gloves for all patient contact so that is not a solution to the problem. I also have terrible real nails (probably just as short as yours). That still doesn't mean I can wear fake nails when they are against hospital policy. You can learn to stop biting your nails if it is a real problem for you.
  6. by   fergus51
  7. by   midwest40
    I'm not talking about crappy "looking" nails, I'm talking open wounds to my finger tips. I have bitten for 43 years, I find that artificial nails are not as sharp as real nails, and they are much more difficult to bite
  8. by   midwest40
    And the studies even state that there is no increase in nosocomial infection from artificial vs long natural. So short artificial should be ok
  9. by   meta4
    While on the nail subject, I have often wondered about what is harbored around old chipped nail polish on either artificial or real nails.
  10. by   Katnip
    Quote from midwest40
    And the studies even state that there is no increase in nosocomial infection from artificial vs long natural. So short artificial should be ok
    No, it means that long natural nails and artificial nails should both be banned as they are where I work.
  11. by   midwest40
    It's been 43 years that I have been biting, have quit on occasion, grew sharp nails during these times. Acrylic makes nails thicker so they are not sharp, and have anti-fungal painted on biweekly. When do people with real nails use anti-fungal?
  12. by   fergus51
    Quote from midwest40
    And the studies even state that there is no increase in nosocomial infection from artificial vs long natural. So short artificial should be ok
    Short natural nails are what healthcare providers should have. That's what policies require in most institutions anyways. Short artificial IS NOT OK because they still promote the growth of microorganisms that real nails don't. Until you can prove that the increased amount of pathogens on your hands doesn't pose a health risk, you have to err on the side of caution and deal with having real nails. PLease read this from the CDC. Length is not the issue. You can stop biting your nails, you can't stop your fake nails from harboring pathogens.



    http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/rr5116a1.htm
    .... HCWs who wear artificial nails are more likely to harbor gram-negative pathogens on their fingertips than are those who have natural nails, both before and after handwashing (347--349). Whether the length of natural or artificial nails is a substantial risk factor is unknown, because the majority of bacterial growth occurs along the proximal 1 mm of the nail adjacent to subungual skin (345,347,348). Recently, an outbreak of P. aeruginosa in a neonatal intensive care unit was attributed to two nurses (one with long natural nails and one with long artificial nails) who carried the implicated strains of Pseudomonas spp. on their hands (350). Patients were substantially more likely than controls to have been cared for by the two nurses during the exposure period, indicating that colonization of long or artificial nails with Pseudomonas spp. may have contributed to causing the outbreak. Personnel wearing artificial nails also have been epidemiologically implicated in several other outbreaks of infection caused by gram-negative bacilli and yeast (351--353). Although these studies provide evidence that wearing artificial nails poses an infection hazard, additional studies are warranted.
  13. by   fergus51
    Quote from meta4
    While on the nail subject, I have often wondered about what is harbored around old chipped nail polish on either artificial or real nails.
    That's why most places won't allow nail polish either.
  14. by   VivaLasViejas
    I hate to say this, but you---AND your patients---are a sitting duck for MRSA, VRE, and any other nasty little germ that happens to end up on your hands during the course of the day.

    Really, you MUST stop biting your nails!! You're a grown-up, and you shouldn't risk your entire future---maybe even your life---doing something that's not only childish, but, well, icky. I used to have a nervous habit of putting my fingers in my mouth a lot, until I got into health care---that cured me! Artificial nails aren't the answer either........you need to confront the source of your stresses and anxieties, and in the meantime, do yourself a favor and paint your nails with some of that anti-nail-biting stuff you can buy at the drugstore---I hear it tastes so terrible that most people aren't even tempted to bite after they've sampled it a couple of times.

    I wish you luck.

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