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How to prevent acne infections nurses are prone to contracting

iStockphoto | ThinkStock

iStockphoto | ThinkStock

Did you know that you can get acne from the hospital?! Yep, the causative agent Propionibacterium acnes is a little-known job hazard for nurses. You’re very prone to contacting this bacterial acne from patients, but The Nerdy Nurse has tips for prevention!

Understanding drug-resistant bacteria

Due to the excessive use of antibacterial agents in hospitals, there has been increase in the population of drug-resistant bacteria. One famous class of such bacteria is the methicillin resistant bacteria or MRSA.

The standard operating procedures help nurses to avoid contact with pathogens like MRSA. However, they can still come in contact with skin-based bacteria as it has the most vulnerable line of defense. This becomes particularly troublesome if the nurse is not wearing gloves, does not wash his/her hands appropriately, or has any cuts or scraps that come into contact with the germs. Interestingly enough, often this bacteria is spread to other parts of a nurse’s body through simple contact. And a bacteria that might have been relatively harmless on your hand can cause a nasty outbreak of acne, no matter what your age, on your face.

I bet you never thought of acne as a hospital-acquired infection.

Recommended solution(s)

Nurses who become a victim of bacterial acne while working in hospitals should avoid using creams that are antibiotic in nature. Instead, benzoyl peroxide gel and non-antibiotic creams are better alternatives. This is because P.acne in hospitals is mostly resistant to a wide range of antibiotics. So either a higher dose or a higher generation of antibiotic will be required. Both of these strategies are not recommended since they can harm the skin in the long run. Moreover, antibiotic mediated therapy does little to control the inflammation (redness/spots on facial skin).

Benzoyl peroxide is better in the sense that it limits the inflammation. The evidence can be found in a study published in the Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology. The researchers analyzed the efficacy of benzoyl peroxide on P.acne that was resistant to antibiotic therapy. The results were strongly in favor of benzoyl peroxide and validated its status as an effective treatment for acne vulgaris.

Another aspect is that antibiotic therapy can lead to collateral cell damage. Though it will limit the amount of bacteria, the victims have to rely on the use of nourishing creams to keep the skin rejuvenated. And as a nurse you should know that using antibiotics for the skin can decrease sensitivity to other antibiotics for more issues.

The microbes and pathogens present in the environment of the hospital are different in nature compared to those present in normal environment. Excessive use of anti-microbial agents has bred a generation of resistant bacteria that can easily affect nurses if safety measures are not in place.The same principle applies in the case of acne proliferation.

Therefore, it is important for nurses to be aware of the pathogens that can be transferred during patient care, to exercise precautions to prevent spread of acne bacteria, and to properly treat yourself if you become infected.

To check out the rest of this story, head on over to The Nerdy Nurse. Then, in the comments below, tell us how you’re protecting your skin at work!

The Nerdy Nurse
Brittney Wilson, RN, BSN, also known as The Nerdy Nurse, is a Clinical Informatics Specialist practicing in Georgia. In her day job she gets to do what she loves every day: Combine technology and healthcare to improve patient outcomes. She can best be described as a patient, nurse and technology advocate, and has a passion for using technology to innovate, improve and simplify lives, especially in healthcare. Brittney blogs about nursing issues, technology, healthcare, parenting and various lifestyle topics at

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