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Glove awareness campaign highlights need to reduce use, even in pandemic

RCN glove awareness week encourages nurses to protect their skin and share advice

RCNs glove awareness week encourages nurses to protect their skin and share ideas for safe PPE use

Protecting patients, nurses and the planets resources is the focus of the RCNs glove awareness week , which runs until 7 May.

Its My One Change message encourages nurses to reduce glove use where possible to protect their skin and hands, while continuing to safeguard patients. The college is asking members to share their ideas on safely reducing glove use via Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

The importance of the right personal protective equipment

During the COVID-19 pandemic, gloves have been a vital element of personal protective equipment (PPE). But glove use combined with frequent handwashing can

RCN’s glove awareness week encourages nurses to protect their skin and share ideas for safe PPE use

A logo for the RCN's My one change message as part of its glove awareness week

Protecting patients, nurses and the planet’s resources is the focus of the RCN’s glove awareness week, which runs until 7 May.

Its My One Change message encourages nurses to reduce glove use where possible to protect their skin and hands, while continuing to safeguard patients. The college is asking members to share their ideas on safely reducing glove use via Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

The importance of the right personal protective equipment

During the COVID-19 pandemic, gloves have been a vital element of personal protective equipment (PPE). But glove use combined with frequent handwashing can lead to contact dermatitis, a painful condition caused by overexposure to irritants such as soap and water.

RCN professional lead for infection prevention and control Rose Gallagher said: ‘The pandemic has demonstrated the importance of the right protective equipment. It has also demonstrated the reality and risks of wearing it for extended periods of time.’

She said gloves, though vital, may be overused and worn unnecessarily, leading to skin damage. ‘If nursing staff could make just one change to reduce their reliance on gloves it could help prevent damage while still protecting patients and our planet’s resources.’

Awareness campaigns to promote best practice on glove use can have a dramatic impact. Great Ormond Street Hospital in London saved £90,000 in 2019 by reducing inappropriate glove use, preventing 18 tonnes of plastic being sent to landfill as part of its The Gloves Are Off – Safer In Our Hands campaign.

RCN glove awareness week advice

  • Only use gloves when needed and remove as soon as possible after the task is complete
  • Do not immediately put on gloves for every patient interaction
  • Use emollient creams after handwashing

Implications of contact dermatitis

RCN national officer Kim Sunley said contact dermatitis on the hands can lead to nurses moving out of clinical area roles, due to the risk of infection. For some, it can be so debilitating that they find it difficult to carry on nursing.

‘It’s in everyone’s interest, especially employers, to take steps to prevent this from happening,’ she said.


Find out more

RCN: Glove Awareness Week Resources


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