According to a just-released study published in the February issue of the American Journal of Infection Control (AJIC), the official journal of the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology, workers who wore the Aloetouch ™ gloves, supplied by Medline, reported a "marked" improvement in their skin after approximately 2 months.
The study was authored by Dennis P. West, PhD from the Department of Dermatology, Northwestern University, the Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago, and Ya Fen Zhu, MS, Shen Wei Zhangiagan Dayu Rubber Products, Jiangsu Province, China.
The clinical study included 30 adult female factory workers who attributed their dry, irritated skin to occupational exposure. The participants wore the Aloetouch glove for 30 days on one hand and nothing on the other hand. This was followed by 30 days of rest, followed by 10 days of repeated use. With a mean time of 3.5 days, the workers showed a "noticeable" improvement for the hand wearing the glove with aloe vera and a "marked" improvement after 10.4 days for the gloved hand. No improvement was detected for the non-gloved hand.
An added benefit, according to researchers, is that employees wore the gloves more often, a fact with which Medline, the company that manufacturers such gloves, agrees.
"A major benefit reported to us by health care workers and their supervisors is that workers, many of whom have dry, chapped hands, are washing their hands and wearing these gloves more often," said Tripp Amdur, president of Medline's glove division. "Despite the new guidelines issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on hand hygiene in the health care environment, studies show that many health care workers are not strictly following the procedures."
The CDC estimates that nearly 2 million patients in the United States acquire an infection in hospitals each year, and about 90,000 of these patients die as a result of their infection. Following clean-hand policies alone could prevent the deaths of up to 20,000 patients each year.
"Clean hands are the single most important factor in preventing the spread of dangerous germs and antibiotic resistance in health care settings," said Dr. Julie Gerberding, director of the CDC.
One of the main reasons health care workers are not following the procedures is their skin is dried out, chapped and cracked from frequent hand washings. Called contact dermatitis, this condition affects millions of health care workers around the country. This condition is exacerbated by the cold, dry air of winter.
"If it (the skin) is uncomfortable, you don't want to put gloves on or wash your hands because you know your hands are going to get dry and irritated, but it's part of the job and you have to do it," said Mary Jane McGeoy, RN, director of Wound Care at Seton Medical Center in San Francisco.
Researchers concluded: "Dry-coated AV (aloe vera) gloves that provide for gradual delivery of AV gel to skin produced a uniformly positive outcome of improved skin integrity, decreased appearance of fine wrinkling and decreased erythema in the management of occupational dry skin and irritant contact dermatitis."