Germicidal hand wash agents and two barrier creams for use on hands were compared to determine their ability to reduce the number of microorganisms released from finger tips. Use of the barrier creams resulted in a significant decrease in the number of microorganisms released, equivalent to the reduction achieved when effective germicidal agents were used, such as 4% chlorhexidine gluconate or iodophor containing 0.75% available iodine. The persistence of the effect of barrier creams on the skin was also studied, and it was found that an initial increase in number of microorganisms released occurred after rinsing with water or washing with non-germicidal soap. Sequential rinsing of hands with tap water, after treatment with the barrier creams or with the effective germicidal agents, gave similar results. Barrier creams can perform a useful adjunct role in hygienic hand disinfection. In this study, they were equivalent to effective hand germicides.

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Author notes

1Department of Food Science.

2Departments of Foods and Nutrition and Microbiology.