Agents for hand hygiene (liquid soap, antibacterial soap, alcohol preparation) can lead to skin damage and may develop inflammation (contact dermatitis) or allergic skin reaction. In this case, a health care worker avoids hand hygiene and thus reduces compliance with hand hygiene.

Therefore, the tolerance of the skin is one of the most important properties of agents for hand hygiene. If tolerance is satisfactory, then the health workers will use the agent.

Another important thing is the regular use of agents for skin care. For this purpose, use lotions or creams for skin care, and they must be available at all places where there are agents for hand hygiene.

Furthermore, it is always necessary to have an alternative agent for some employees who do not tolerate agent in general use in a particular department/institution.

Training for hand hygiene should include mandatory training on skin care too.

At least one study has shown that the use of a well-formulated alcoholic hand rub which includes humectants and/emollients showed no decrease in hand health. 


Link to IC/HH Core competencies: Area 4 Infection control activities: Domain Elaborating infection control intervention ICA 1-2 and ICA 1-4


  1. Pittet D, Allegranzi B, SaxH et al. Double-blind, randomized, cross-over trial of 3 hand rub formulations. fast-track evaluation of tolerability and acceptability. Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology 2007;28:1344-51.
  2. Boyce JM, Kelliher S, Vallande N. Skin irritation and dryness associated with two hand–hygiene regimens: soap-and-water hand washing versus hand antisepsis with an alcoholic hand gel. Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology, 2000, 21:442–448.