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Can nurses have artifical nails?

Professionalism   (72,966 Views 60 Comments)
by MissMiniPink MissMiniPink (Member)

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I'm sure this has been asked on the forum before but this question has been burning in my mind, lol. Are nurses allowed to have acrylics or wear nail polish? I know for sure that I want to be a nurse but I'd be very sad without my nails.

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146 Posts; 4,728 Profile Views

Trust me I know how you're feeling. I love getting my nails done especially with acrylic. I've heard you can't wear acrylic nails as a Nurse, but I'm not sure about just nail polish. I'm going to have to mentally prepare myself for for not being able to wear acrylic anymore 😩

Sent from my iPhone using the allnurses app

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klone has 13 years experience as a MSN, RN and specializes in Women's Health/OB Leadership.

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Acrylic or fake nails, no. Nail polish depends on the policy of the facility, but both CDC and WHO state that as long as the polish is unchipped, it's okay.

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115 Posts; 6,211 Profile Views

No, they harbor bacteria. And nail polish depends on the facility, but for the benefit of your patients it may be better to avoid it (cracks or chipping may harbor bacteria as well). Per my facility's policy we can have a clear coat as long as it is changed every 3 days and is kept up on/not chipping a lot. However, many RNs will wear a coat of a subtle color and I have seen the techs use all different types of colors.

Personally, I hate acrylic nails - the few times I've had them they have absolutely ruined my nails =(

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Ruby Vee has 40 years experience as a BSN and specializes in CCU, SICU, CVSICU, Precepting & Teaching.

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It's going to depend upon the policies of your facility, but artificial nails are a definite no. Polish -- maybe.

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JustBeachyNurse has 10 years experience as a RN and specializes in Complex pediatrics turned LTC/subacute geriatrics.

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There are multiple published journal articles documenting the increased infection risk (not only of bacteria but fungi cultured) from artificial nails whether gel or acrylic. There has been some documentation of cultured microorganisms in long nails and chipped polish. This can be a lethal if not life altering circumstance in high risk areas such as NICU.

Whether polish is permitted depends on school and/or facility policy. Many permit non-chipped polish that is changed every few days in a clear or neutral color with nail length that do not pass the tip of the finger.

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JustBeachyNurse has 10 years experience as a RN and specializes in Complex pediatrics turned LTC/subacute geriatrics.

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Here's a link that discusses many of the recommendations:

http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/547793

Artificial nails are not recommended/permissible.

Chipped nail polish has also been implicated in infection control issues.

Here's a second: http://scijourner.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=186:acrylic-nails-in-health-care-settings

However, the most interesting aspect is a small reference to the problem of artificial acrylic nails being a source of infection.

The concern began with a study published in September, 1999, in the journalClinical Infectious Diseases. Researchers at the University of Michigan and Michigan Veterans Affairs Medical Centers found that 86% of a volunteer group of HCWs with artificial nails had a pathogen such as Staphylococcus aureus, which causes staph infections, or yeast under their nails, compared with 35% of a control group of HCWs without artificial nails. Staph and yeast both cause infections, ranging from inflammation to blood poisoning. After cleaning their hands with soap or gel, 68% of HCWs with artificial nails still carried pathogens compared to 28% of control HCWs. The study concluded, "Artificial acrylic fingernails could contribute to the transmission of pathogens, and their use by HCWs should be discouraged."

Major hospitals and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) agreed. According to CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report published October 25, 2002, "Health care workers 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 hand washing."

According to the University of California San Francisco Medical Center, outbreaks of infections have been traced to the artificial fingernails of health care workers by researchers at the Stamford Hospital in Stamford, CT, the Acute Disease Division of the Oklahoma State Department of Health,and the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York City.

Even more disturbing, according to a Oklahoma State Department of Health study done in 2000 and published online at Pubmed.gov, "46 [neonatal intensive care unit] patients in a university-affiliated children's hospital acquired P. aeruginosa, a bacteria that can cause blood poisoning, and 16 of them died; this outbreak was linked epidemiologically to 2 nurses, one with artificial nails and another with long, natural nails."

St. Louis hospitals also have guidelines on nails. Shawn E. Ray, MSN RN and Director of Organizational Effectiveness at Barnes-Jewish Hospital, tells SciJourner that Barnes-Jewish Hospital implemented their policy on fingernails in 2003. According to Ray, the policy states, "Employees with direct or indirect contact with patients or patient care items will not wear artificial fingernails, extenders, wraps, or nail art while at work."

So if you see a nurse with long nails you better run!

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305 Posts; 4,211 Profile Views

I loved having my nails done before I became a nurse. Once I really thought about the amount of bacteria they harbor...regardless of how well you wash your hands...I quickly decided that I could live without them. Yuck! Yuck! Yuck!

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THELIVINGWORST has 4 years experience as a ASN, RN and specializes in Public Health.

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My only issue is how broken and brittle my nails get without being manicured.

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305 Posts; 4,211 Profile Views

My only issue is how broken and brittle my nails get without being manicured.

There are supplements for that...gelatin, I think.

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FLArn has 20 years experience and specializes in Hospice, LTC, Rehab, Home Health.

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It is possible to have your nails professionally manicured and buffed to have a kind of a sheen without having artificial nails. I am terrible at shaping my nails so they are more or less uniform so I see the manicurist just for trimming and filling. I treat myself to a pedicure with polish in place of my acrylics!

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THELIVINGWORST has 4 years experience as a ASN, RN and specializes in Public Health.

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I just use gel polish and keep them short.

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