You are reading Hand hygiene: is it useful to use antibacterial gel in the hospital?

Infectious diseases

Hand hygiene: is it useful to use antibacterial gel in the hospital?

July 27, 2018

It is located in every hospital room or lane, but many visitors do not use the antibacterial gel for their hands thinking that it is reserved only for surgeons or that it “serves no purpose”. In spite of those who think that antibacterial gel for the hands “serves no purpose”, – explains Dr. Michele Lagioia, Health Director of Humanitas and specialist in Hygiene and Preventive Medicine – the World Health Organization provides the same guidelines on the use of the gel for both healthcare professionals and visitors. Especially when you visit immuno-compromised patients (the elderly, patients after surgery, patients undergoing cancer therapies, etc.), antibacterial hand gel is a valid and effective aid against the transmission of infections carried by the hands. Antibacterial gel is often found in an alcoholic solution, which, when vigorously rubbed on the hands, reduces the bacterial load of micro-organisms physiologically present on the skin, just as much as washing the hands with soap and water. The antibacterial action of the gel derives from its ability to denature, i.e. to alter the structure of the bacteria in our hands by temporarily eliminating them. Although it has been shown that after a few minutes of hand washing or rubbing with the gel, the bacterial load will reform, it is nevertheless important to use the antibacterial gel correctly before approaching the patient’s bed or leaving the hospital room. The World Health Organization has identified six steps to be taken for the proper use of antibacterial gel:


  • Pour a small amount of gel (3 ml) into the right palm of the dry hand.
  • Rub the right palm on the back of your left hand and vice versa
  • Rub your fingers together palm to palm, making sure to rub gaps between your fingers
  • Rub the back of your fingers with the palm of your hand
  • Rub each hand’s fingertip against the palm of the opposite hand;
  • Rub until the gel is completely dry


Therefore, a simple gesture that takes no more than 20-30 seconds, performed correctly, can effectively reduce, even if temporarily, the bacterial load on the hands, preventing our hands of becoming vectors of infections for our loved ones in the hospital.

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