Since hands are in almost constant contact with any number of contaminated surfaces, they are especially susceptible to transmitting bacteria and other microorganisms to working surfaces and other objects in the operatory. As a consequence, hands need to be cleaned and disinfected on a regular basis. The goal of every hand washing regimen is to:
• Remove residues, natural oils, creams and other microorganisms from the hands and forearms
• Reduce the number of microorganisms on the skin
• Prevent the growth of microorganism population during the operation
• Prevent the risk of contamination between the skin and the surgical environment
The two types of organisms that are present in the skin are: resident or in-transit. People acquire in-transit microorganisms through direct contact. After contact, they immediately begin attacking the skin. A clinically aseptic cleaning of hands can only be achieved through the use of mechanical and chemical processes to control these organisms. During aseptic cleaning of the hands, scrubbing with a brush removes most of in-transit micro-organisms.
Resident micro-organisms are the bacterial flora of the skin, hair follicles, sebaceous glands and sudoriferous glands. These microorganisms
stick to the skin and are resistant to mechanical removal. During aseptic cleaning of the hands, the chemical action of antimicrobial and antiseptic substances reduces and neutralizes resident microbial flora.