RN With Contamination OCD - Please Help!

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Journey_On, BSN, RN

Specializes in Occupational Health and Mother Baby. Has 13 years experience. 285 Posts

EDITED to add: I've had contamination OCD for 10+ years, so this is not something that started with covid.

I also have contamination OCD (all but diagnosed, but I know enough to know). It’s a struggle because it feels isolating - at least for me, personally, I don't know anyone else in real life who has it.

To answer your questions, when I get in the car, I throw on another shirt for the drive home. When I get home, I remove all my clothes, and they go directly in the washer. Then I shower before I do anything else (I.e., eat dinner, sit down). Every so often, I will spray the bottom of my shoes with Lysol and sometimes the floor of the driver’s seat (I have rubber mats). We don’t wear shoes inside the house, so all shoes stay in the garage. 

I also PhoneSoap all the things in my pockets that I used throughout the day. It really helps with cutting down on disinfectant wipe usage.

You’re not alone. ❤️

bitter_betsy, BSN

Specializes in Emergency / Disaster. Has 3 years experience. 448 Posts

On 10/15/2021 at 1:39 PM, FSZ Student Nurse said:

Does my showering ritual actually achieve anything?

I am an ER nurse.  First I will say we were.... lazy, stupid?  I dunno.  There was no way to tell who had covid and who didn't anymore. People with abdominal pain walked through the door, tested them and yup - they had covid.  They protested - I'm vaccinated.  Yup - and you have covid. Whatever.  It was impossible to get ANYTHING done when constantly donning, doffing, on the possibility that the person in front of you had covid.... they literally all did.  When someone came back with a negative test result - we were actually surprised.  None of us in my department wore gowns.  Docs would come down to look at patients and ask - "doesn't this patient have covid".... yup - and we kept going - giving them their PPE and we would walk in like Brad Pitt in Fight Club. I wore a head covering, goggles and an N95 with a level 3 over it.  I washed my hands to the point of bleeding and sanitized the bloody stumps left.  When I left work, I put my shoes in a box and changed my shoes.  I went home, sprayed down my car with the appropriate germicide (I do not have children at home and I am the only person that rides in my car), then I walked into my house barefoot and put my clothes straight into the washer (which I always left the door open ready for my clothes).  I'd go straight to the shower and take the hottest shower that my skin could stand.  I had a bottle of sanitizer in the shower that I would use on my arms prior to actually showering with soap.

When finished, I'd go start my laundry - which ran twice.  I'd also respray my car and also spray my shoes before going to sleep.

I've never thought twice about it. I also have not had covid.

Proceed with your showering ritual - but stop doing anything else before you take a shower.  It worked for me.  As far as not wearing full PPE at work - I don't recommend it - however there weren't enough of us as it was - we didn't have time for all the donning and doffing and we wouldn't have had enough PPE for those docs when they did come down.  Heck - we didn't even suction canisters half of the time - but that's another story.

EDNURSE20, BSN

Specializes in ED, med-surg, peri op. Has 5 years experience. 451 Posts

We all have are rituals. For me there are 3 main things.

1. I give my hands a good wash before I leave the hospital.

2. I take my shoes off immediately, I more concerned about what’s on my shoes than my scrubs. They sit by my door.

3. Scrubs go straight into my washer. I don’t mind walking threw my house in them, but wouldn’t sit on the sofa or anything like that. 

if I’m being honest, I don’t always shower after work. Never picked up an illness from work! It’s all about hand hygiene, than anything else  

 

LibraNurse27, BSN, RN

Specializes in Community Health, Med/Surg, ICU Stepdown. Has 9 years experience. 971 Posts

I think logically there isn't much to be concerned about with your scrubs; most diseases don't last on clothing and dirty clothes are not a common mode of disease transmission. Especially if you're following all precautions at work I think you're good! But I totally know mental illness doesn't allow us to think logically sometimes. I'm really glad you're getting treatment from a specialist, and thank you for sharing your experience with OCD. 

beachynurse, ASN, BSN

Specializes in School Nursing. Has 37 years experience. 243 Posts

When I worked in the hospital, I had routine that I followed for infection control measures. My shoes went in a box in the back of the car. I wore slippers home. I had a shoe storage box for my shoes in the garage where all my work she's were kept. I had separate hampers for work and regular clothes. I tried to be cautious about laundry loads too.. I'd shower and then go about my business. I just never felt clean when I came home. 

Psy_sci, BSN, RN

Has 12 years experience. 19 Posts

On 10/17/2021 at 10:45 AM, Journey_On said:

I also PhoneSoap all the things in my pockets that I used throughout the day. It really helps with cutting down on disinfectant wipe usage.

You’re not alone. ❤️

Hello Journey! May I ask what Phonesoap is? Is it a concept, or product? I always wonder how do deal with those things in pockets through out the day (night for me actually).  I work in a psych/eating d/o hospital, and very little hand sanitizer available!! Yuck!

broomg

8 Posts

How do you drive all the way home without contaminating the inside of your car?

Wuzzie

4,633 Posts

In 34 years I have never taken any special measures with my clothing, shoes or body when leaving work or going into my home and I have never, to my knowledge, contaminated myself to the point of acutally becoming ill. I am much more grossed out by the grocery store than I am the hospital. That being said, you do you. Just don't let it get to the point that you are obsessing about it or harming your skin which is your first defense against pathogens. 

canoehead, BSN, RN

Specializes in ER. Has 30 years experience. 6,792 Posts

On 10/15/2021 at 9:19 AM, hppygr8ful said:

Well my husband is a germaphobe. When Covid arrived at our door He installed UV lights in the mud room. Our clothes washer and dryer are in there so I take my hospital shoes off then enter through the  back door.I strip there and throw my scrubs. Stand under the lights and make a full 360 degree turn around, Then I proceed to the shower. Once showered I put my robe on and enter the main house.

Hppy

don't you need 15 minutes under UV to kill germs? And how do you know how much light to use? Give me the scoop!

NeedCoffeeStat, BSN

Specializes in ICU. Has 15 years experience. 4 Posts

I'm at the other end of the spectrum ... rarely shower after work unless I was getting sweaty doing CPR or elbow deep in another mess. I used to wash my scrubs separately from other clothing, but figure whatever contaminants should be washed off by regular soap, right? I did get a little overboard at the beginning of covid--I wore hospital issued scrubs at work, changed into other clothes before leaving, immediately took those clothes off when arriving at home, and then went to shower (which ended up more as a therapeutic thing than anything), bleach wiped my keys/coffee mug/lunch box/etc.. But I'm really not worried about bringing anything home at this point. I wash my hands at work and do good hand hygiene when caring for patients and I'm fine with that level of cleanliness.

Emergent, RN

Specializes in ER. Has 29 years experience. 2 Articles; 3,860 Posts

I assume you all know that the lack of exposure to pathogens leaves the immune system confused, and contributes to the development of autoimmune disorders and allergies.

Journey_On, BSN, RN

Specializes in Occupational Health and Mother Baby. Has 13 years experience. 285 Posts

12 hours ago, Psy_sci said:

Hello Journey! May I ask what Phonesoap is? Is it a concept, or product? I always wonder how do deal with those things in pockets through out the day (night for me actually).  I work in a psych/eating d/o hospital, and very little hand sanitizer available!! Yuck!

Of course! 🙂 

It is a product (not sure of the rules on here about links, but you can see the products at PhoneSoap dot com) - different variations of the product, but they all do the same thing - kill germs with UV light. I'm slightly embarrassed to admit I have multiple of these devices around my house (PhoneSoap just kept coming out with more that really appealed to me), and I actually use all of them to UV sanitize my stuff after a shift.

They do make a travel-friendly one where it doesn't needed to be plugged into an outlet to use. I hope this helps. 🙂