Clean hands made me sick?

  1. At the NICU where I work we are required to do a 3 minute scrub up to the elbows using a brush at the beginning of our shift. Between babies or before touching a "clean" area we can do a 20 second wash up to the elbows or use hand sanitizer to the elbows. We have two soaps to choose from a chlorohexidine based and an iodine based. Our sanitizer is Avagard. Normally I use iodine soap and only use avagard rarely. Last week though I got pretty heavy with the avagard. I developed a terrible rash with blisters, burning and itching. I actually had to go get a shot on my way home from work. I guess it is back to good old iodine for me. My FNP says it is rare but not unheard of for health care workers to get sensitized to chlorohexidine. Has anyone else had problems with Avagard or chlorohexidine gluconate in general?
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    About HappyBunnyNurse

    Joined: Sep '08; Posts: 198; Likes: 373
    NICU; from US


  3. by   BoopRN
    I am sensitive to the soap and to the contact isolation gowns on our unit. Our soap is chlorohexidine gluconate based and we have no alternitave that I am aware of. I get a light red burning rash up to my elbows on days that I wash more than usual (like when I have a baby that requires frequent attention). When I wear the contact isolation gowns for 2 or more days in a row it looks like I have a farmer's sunburn. Our CNS checked and there is no latex in our gowns. Our hand sanitizer is CalStat and I don't have an issue with it that I know of. I'm sorry you are having this reaction...crossing my fingers that mine don't progress!
  4. by   mustlovepoodles
    I am very sensitive to anti-bacterial soaps of all kinds. I can use them for 8 hours and my hands look red, cracked and bleeding. Betadine does the same thing, only I swell up and itch. Incidently, my kids are the same way. I have to send moisturizing hand soap to their school so they'll have something to wash up with .
  5. by   FLArn
    I am confused! How can the employer force you to use products to which you are allergic? Wouldn't this fall under the ADA act? It wouldn't be that much of a burden to find an alternative product! Everytime you use these products you are becoming more and more sensitized until you have a full blown allergic reaction. Then if you are lucky enough not to die, where will you work? I would strongly suggest to your employer that it would be in their best interest to supply you with products you can use safely.
  6. by   HappyBunnyNurse
    I have a choice in soaps so I can just use the iodine based which I like better anyway. Several nurses have told me they got "little bumps" from the Avagard so they also refuse to use it. It is just a lot of trouble to do a 20 second wash every time you need to go to the supply room or read an IV or etc. My FNP wrote me a note. She also said that if I am allergic to chlorohexidine and I use it with a open cut I can have a systemic rxn. I wonder if I need to list this as an allergy if I'm ever hospitalized.... Scary stuff.
  7. by   Crocuta
    Quote from HappyBunnyNurse
    I wonder if I need to list this as an allergy if I'm ever hospitalized.... Scary stuff.
    I would. Chlorhexidine is the active ingredient in several healthcare products including Biopatch (for central lines) and Chloraprep (for starting IV's). Even as a patient, you have a fairly high chance of being exposed.
  8. by   wooh
    CHG is becoming as irritating to me as latex. It's quite frustrating. Between handwashing and CHG swabbing, my hands are so raw after a few days at work. I could wear gloves with the swabs, but that means gloves every time I do something with an IV, which is so unrealistic. And there's supposedly "alternative soap" but keeping it at every sink on the unit when I work? That won't happen. I end up slathering hydrocortisone on my hands every night after work. I can't imagine if I had to do the scrubbing up to the elbows, ugh!!
  9. by   coneil
    I am also very sensitive to the scrub soap with CHG. Even Avagard has 1 percent and I had hoped it wouldn't bother me, but it is also causing a reaction. Are there any other types of scrubs other than the iodine based? Does anyone have any other suggestions because I need to scrub for surgeries and the Chlorhexidine seems to make me very ill.
  10. by   coneil
    Have you found anything to substitute for the scrub that is allowed and doesn't contain the CHG? I too have a severe reaction and need to scrub to my elbows