False Nails (Does it promote infection?) - page 3

I am curious to what people think about this subject. At the hospital where I work they are really emphasizing that no care giver direct patient care or indirect patient care are permitted to wear... Read More

  1. by   betts
    Frequently Asked Question about Infection Control

    Many homebound patients are at high risk for infection because of drug therapy and diseases that weaken the immune system, invasive devices such as feeding tubes or catheters, extreme age, and more. Is it possible that the homecare worker's artificial fingernails could spread infection to these patients?

    Many studies have been done in an attempt to demonstrate the relationship between healthcare workers' hands, including fingernails, and nosocomial (hospital-related) infections. Studies show a correlation between bacteria that cause infections in patients and the organisms cultured from the hands of healthcare workers. Twelve of 56 nurses (21%) with artificial nails had more than 100 colony-forming units of gram-negative rods after washing their hands. Only 5% of the control group had these organisms.

    The Association of Operating Room Nurses (AORN) advises against wearing artificial nails in the operating room. When the natural barrier of the skin is interrupted, such as during surgery or working with homecare patients who have wounds, there is an increased risk for infection due to the bacteria carried on the hands of the healthcare worker.

    Long nails, whether artificial or not, are more likely to penetrate gloves and put the homecare worker at risk for exposure to blood and other body fluids. A healthcare worker with minor damage and the start of an infection around the nails (usually related to a nail breaking) can transmit infection to a patient. And damaged skin around nails makes the worker more vulnerable to picking up an infection.

    Besides the risk of infection transmission, the use of artificial nails can:

    * jeopardize the health and integrity of the nail bed

    * lead to nail and skin damage caused by the chemicals used in applying and removing nails, and

    * expose the wearer to toxic chemicals used in the process.

    The best and safest advice: Keep nails short, well groomed, and polish free.
  2. by   BrandyBSN
    I completely understand not wearing art. nails. I do however think that our fingernail polish policy is kind of amusing. We can not wear colors, but clear is allowed. In theory, wouldnt the same risks that are associated with colored polish also be associated with clear?

    It doesnt make sense to me

  3. by   dewp_63
    It was explained to me that clear polish is allowed, because it allows everyone to see what your nails look like. With colored nail polish, you could have fungal infections, crud under your nails, etc. and no one would be the wiser... My gripe about all of this is it is targeted to nurses. I don't know how many times I see a Resp. Tech or Radiology tech with false, long nails. And they rarely wear gloves for their usual procedures...

    But, I am glad that nurses are trying to address this very important topic. I had an interesting experience a couple of weeks ago. The infection control nurse had her booth set up, with the black light and flourescent cream to educate you about the numbers of germs that remain on your hands after hand washing. Well, I scrubbed the heck out of my hands (more than a regular washing), but didn't have a nail brush or hand brush. After I came back, the glow around my nail beds amazed me! The other eye-opener came related to the nail polish I was wearing (freshly applied). It was some fancy stuff for Halloween, with glitter, and the glitter caught all the flourescent stuff, so you could see every minute crack in the nail polish. Like I said, I'm leaning more toward no nail polish after that!
  4. by   kids
    OK, my imput, as unpopular as it ma be...
    I have worn acrylic for 10 years, since I got out of school. I am a dedicated nail biter that doesn't chew with nails on, but if I give my nails even a brief break I chew them until they bleed. I keep them short (finger tip) and rather thin with rounded corners. I have them done religiously Q2 weeks including dremeling out the grown out nail. I have never had an infection but have seen it-nail fungus (not an infection of the nail bed) is so dark it will show through art. nails covered with all but the darkest polish.

    I worked in a LTC that thought to ban art. nails by having infection control prove the germiness buy doing cultures. We were not warned in advance, it was just done at an IC meeting. We all washed our hands 'as usual' with the facility soap and dried on the facility paper towels then cultures were taken.

    Of 30 nurses cultured 12 had 'nails' on. Of the nail wearers only ONE grew significant cultures. Of the 18 non-nail wearers 5 grew significant cultures-including MRSA. The facility elected to ban all nails over a certain length.

    In my (humble) opinion. Slobs will be slobs but most nail wearers are very contientious about keeping them clean.

    I'd hate to see a culture of my chewed to the quick nails.
  5. by   kennedyj
    Last week our hospital just implemented a policy on nails (real or acrylic). No one is allowed to wear them more than 1/4" inch past the tip of the finger for females and the tip of the finger for males.
  6. by   night owl
    Call me an old fart, but I believe in old school. Short, well groomed nails are professional looking, and harbors less micros. When it comes to the safety and well being of my residents/patients AND for the health of my nails, I go natural. I knew this woman who had nail fungus, but not from wearing false nails. Where she got it from I don't know, BUT her nails were the ugliest things I've ever seen...all lumpy, bumpy, thick and discolored...eeeeeeewwwwww...not me! Kept them polished just to cover up the ugliness. So now she has lumpy, bumpy thick colored nails...Still Fugly.
  7. by   TracyB,RN
    I prefer the natural look myself: no polish & short. I cannot even imagine the discomfort the pt. would have if checking for impaction.
    I have seen people wearing art. nails, not even realizing that the nail had poked through the glove. IKKKKKK
  8. by   night owl
    eeeeeeeeeewwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!
  9. by   Whisper
    I am a first year Nursing student in the UK, and my university has decided that any student found to have long nails, fake nails or even nail polish will fail this placement, leaving them with an extra 120 hours of placement to make up as well as moving on to the next semester.
    I nearly got into trouble with my nails because they were so well buffed that they loooked like polish, so the sister ran some nail polish remover over them just to satisfy that it wasn't polish!!! Having any nails, so to speak has become a sin as great as that as wearing a wrist watch!
  10. by   mommyrn
    Hi everyone. I want to share my insight into this subject. I just completed my microbiology for health professionals course last semester. We spent a great deal of time discussing this issue. We went as far as taking actual swabs from underneath the fingernails of people with false nails. The bottom line is that they do indeed harbor very unsafe bacterias. If you think about it, when you have false nails, moisture always somehow gets in there (you don't take a shower with gloves on), and there is always space between your natural nail and the false nail. This is the perfect breeding ground for bacteria. It's not only false nails that bring this problem though...it's natural long nails as well. Any time you provide a crevice that is hard to clean and is usually moist, you are asking for trouble. It's a very dangerous scenario when working in the health care setting. Yes, we should wear gloves, but you don't wear them 24 hours a day. Makes you think.
  11. by   MarnnaRN
    I, too, am a nail biter and wear art nails to keep from doing that. Not long, and usually french manicure, which is nice looking. I have never had a fungal or bacterial infection. I have the tech that is doing my nails put on a new dremel head before they start on mine, so I know it is clean. btw: everyone says that long nails have been cultured, are they culturing those with short nails at all? I am a religous hand washer, I have to admit, though, after reading all of this, I might start carrying a nail brush to work with me.
  12. by   Teshiee
    I work in NICU and I agree artifical nails should not be worn. I know there are some nurses who are very diligent with handwashing unfortunately not all. There was an incident where neonates died because of an infection that was colonized with artifical nails. Right now our facility doesn't have a policy but it will come. I wonder if scrub nurses or techs are allowed to wear them. All it takes is one mistake and it is all over.
  13. by   Teshiee
    kids r fun it doesn't matter if you are a slob or not once the fungus or bacteria has colonized on you it is potentially bad for who ever comes in contact with tht nurse. Even if one person has a significant growth that is enough for me to do away with those art nails.