New hand hygiene guidelines urge healthcare facilities to avoid certain soaps

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Experts advise healthcare facilities to avoid a “heavily marketed” soap in updated hand hygiene guidelines published Wednesday.

Triclosan antibacterial soaps have proved to be less safe and effective than recommended products such as chlorhexidine soap and alcohol-based hand rub, according to recommendations from the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America and Infectious Diseases Society of America. Triclosan is often added to antibacterial soaps and body washes to reduce or prevent bacterial contamination. 

However, research has shown an increased risk of contamination and resistance with the use of triclosan-containing soaps. Past studies have found significant reductions in nosocomial infections and multidrug-resistant organisms when switching from using triclosan soaps to ABHR, the researchers noted.

“In the absence of clear evidence suggesting superior effectiveness in healthcare settings, combined with risks of resistance and contamination, use of triclosan-containing soaps in healthcare settings for hand hygiene should be avoided,” the researchers wrote.

Katherine Ellingson, Ph.D. and Janet P. Haas, Ph.D., RN, CIC, are the co-lead authors of “Strategies to Prevent Healthcare-Associated Infections through Hand Hygiene,” which appeared in the August issue of Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology.

To access the complete guidelines, click here.

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