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Infection prevention and control guidelines

2. Hand hygiene

Jewellery, nail polish and artificial nails

      1. Jewellery, nail polish and artificial nails

Last revised: 18 Aug 2023

Jewellery, nail polish and artificial nails

Note: Guidance on jewellery, nail polish and artificial nails is principally intended for procedural general practice.

Health professionals should not wear rings at work because they interfere with hand-hygiene techniques and the skin under rings may be more heavily colonised by microorganisms than comparable skin without rings.

Freshly applied nail polish on natural nails does not increase the microbial load if fingernails are short. However, it should be removed before rough edges or chipping develop.

False fingernails may harbour microorganisms, especially Gram-negative bacilli and yeasts, even after handwashing.

Health professionals when providing direct patient care should adhere to a ‘bare below the elbow’ policy, including short sleeves, to ensure hands (and, if necessary, wrists and forearms) can be decontaminated effectively. This is particularly important for treatment room procedures.

Each practice could develop policies on jewellery, artificial nails and nail polish for other situations, based on risk assessment (see also: Clothing and other wearable items).