30 September 1999

The death of ‘Nail Salons’ (we can only hope)!

by Kate Melville

Next time you're in hospital just pray that if your nurse doesn't wear artificial fingernails. Sounds odd, well apparently artificial fingernails harbour harmful bacteria and yeasts and hand washing is an ineffective method of removing these pathogens

This is the finding of research by Dr. Carol Kauffman of the Ann Arbor Veterans Affairs Medical Centre and by Dr. Shelly McNeil and Dr. Catherine Foster of the University of Michigan.

Nurses with artificial nails were more likely than those without to have harmful bacteria and yeasts on their nails. Before hand washing, 73% of nurses with artificial nails compared with only 32% of nurses without had harmful bacteria present on their nails. Following hand-washing with an antimicrobial soap or a waterless alcohol-based gel, nurses with artificial nails continued to be much more likely to have harmful bacteria and yeasts on their nails.

The study clearly demonstrated that nurses who wear artificial nails are more likely to harbour harmful bacteria than nurses who don't wear artificial nails. Thus, the use of artificial nails by nurses may increase the chances that harmful bacteria will be transmitted to patients and cause infection. So hospitals are going to have to review their Infection Control Policies and probably discourage or ban staff from using artificial fingernails (editors note - why not extend this to the food industry?)