Personal Hygiene

What is it?

Microbes spread easily in healthcare due to physical contact between healthcare workers, residents, and visitors. Maintaining good personal hygiene significantly reduces the risk of cross-contamination and transmission of contagious infections.

Employees must notify their supervisor if they are suffering from an infection, particularly when working in areas where residents have impaired immunity. 

The supervisor should seek advice from the IPC lead, manager, or nominated charge person when there is doubt about whether an employee should be working.


Hygiene guidelines


Hand hygiene

Transient microbes on the hands will usually be removed by hand hygiene. Strict attention must be paid to good hand hygiene and good hand care

For personal protection, ensure that cuts, abrasions, or rashes, particularly on the hands, are covered with a waterproof dressing and that disposable medical examination gloves are worn if necessary



Hair should be clean and, if long, secured off the face



The type and length of fingernails can have an impact on the effectiveness of hand hygiene.  Artificial or false nails have been associated with higher levels of infectious agents, especially gram-negative bacilli and yeasts, than natural nails. Fingernails should, therefore, be kept short, i.e., the length of the finger pad, and clean, artificial fingernails should not be worn.

Studies have also demonstrated that chipped nail polish may support the growth of organisms on the fingernails. It is good practice not to wear nail polish.



Jewellery and rings can interfere with the technique used to perform hand hygiene, resulting in higher total bacterial counts. Wearing rings is linked with increased hand contamination with infectious agents. Wearing watches, rings, or other jewellery during health care is strongly discouraged. However, if jewellery must be worn in clinical areas, it should be limited to a plain band, e.g., a wedding ring, which should be moved about the finger during hand hygiene practices.



Freshly laundered uniforms or clothing must be worn at the commencement of each shift. If a uniform becomes contaminated during the course of a day, the uniform should be changed. Additional clothing worn to work must be stored in personal lockers and not left around the facility where micro-organisms may inadvertently spread.


Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) must be worn when any risk assessment advises this and when there is a risk of contamination by blood and/or body fluids.