HAND HYGIENE. Definition of Terms. Alcohol-based hand rub . An alcohol-containing preparation designed for application to the hands for reducing the number of viable microorganisms on the hands. In the United States, such preparations usually contain 60%–95% ethanol or isopropanol.
This property also has beenreferred to as “residual activity.”
In 1822, a French pharmacist demonstrated that solutions containing chlorides of lime or soda could eradicate the foul odors associated with human corpses and that such solutions could be used as disinfectants and antiseptics.
In a paper published in 1825, this pharmacist stated that physicians attending patients with contagious diseases would benefit from moistening their hands with a liquid chloride solution
He noted that physicians who went directly from the autopsy suite to the obstetrics ward had a disagreeable odor on their hands despite washing their hands with soap and water upon entering the obstetrics clinic.
He postulated that the puerperal fever was caused by “cadaverous particles” transmitted from the autopsy suite to the obstetrics ward via the hands of students and physicians.
Soaps are detergent-based products that contain esterified fatty acids and sodium or potassium hydroxide. Their cleaning activity can be attributed to their detergent properties, which result in removal of dirt, soil, and various organic substances from the hands. Plain soaps have minimal, if any, antimicrobial activity.
Non-antimicrobial soaps may be associated with skin irritation and dryness, although adding emollients to soap preparations may reduce their propensity to cause irritation.