Lynn123 Asked April 17, 2018

The caregiver who assists my 96-year-old mother wears long artificial fingernails. Is that safe?

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The caregiver is doing a great job with my mother, but it seems to defy common sense to have such long nails while bathing her and wiping her. I worry about the hygiene aspect (I know she washes her hands, but quickly; I don't think she always wears the surgical gloves we have on hand). But I'm more concerned with the sharp nails around my mother's very fragile skin, especially in the vaginal and anal areas. Any opinions or knowledge about this?

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LisaNJ Apr 17, 2018
As a former CNA, we were not allowed to have long nails or artificial nails. Long nails because of the obvious, scratching people and no artificial nails as bacteria can grow when nail polish starts to chip and again scratching someone. If she is from an agency I would call to voice your concerns if in a facility I would talk to Nurse or DON.
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Daughterof1930 Apr 18, 2018
I’ve come back to the above twice now, it really bothers me. The OP didn’t mention race and it’s really inappropriate. Both families in need of care and caregivers come in all races as do people who choose to wear long, acrylic fingernails. The issue is the nails, not race. There are many of my race, certainly of all our races, that each of us wouldn’t want to be lumped into a category with. Let’s not do it here.
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Daughterof1930 Apr 17, 2018
Ugh, I wouldn’t like this a bit! My mom had all the type care you describe and no caregiver had long nails, I doubt it was allowed. I’d have to speak up
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Eyerishlass Apr 17, 2018
I'd be more concerned about the aide not using the gloves than with her long nails.

I used to wear acrylic nails because my own nails were so thin and ugly. I never had a problem scratching myself or tearing delicate skin. And I worked in health care. If I was giving a bath to a patient the washcloth would be between my gloved hand and the patient's skin. Same with toileting. The tissue paper would be between my gloved hand and the delicate skin. Your caregiver's hands should not be coming in contact with your mom's skin during bathing or toileting but not because of her nails but because of hygiene purposes. The caregiver should be gloved any time she has contact with your mom during bathing and toileting.
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JoAnn29 Apr 17, 2018
Unless she uses bacterial soap and a scrub brush when washing her hands, no, artificial nails and even long natural are a no no if ur in the medical field.
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Shane1124 Apr 18, 2018
I’m a nurse & per my employer policy could not have long nails. Bacteria can grow underneath them which can be transferred from patient to patient.
I see those long fingernails on many caregivers and wonder how the heck they can work with them. Even when using gloves the long nail will cause the glove to tear.
Unfortunately the policy of short finger nails is overlooked more often than not these days.
You can call the agency to report it, then the employee may quit and the employer will be short staffed, so many employers do nothing.
I myself am a handwashing freak but I know the dangers of not following infection control.
I agree 100% long fingernails are an issue when delivering patient care & can’t understand how the employee can perform their job with them (same with computers) but I don’t know the solution.
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Countrymouse Apr 18, 2018
Unprofessional, unacceptable. Clean hands are the basis of infection control and long nails on ungloved hands are out. Address this either directly, yourself, or indirectly through her agency.
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AliBoBali Apr 18, 2018
I don't comprehend the level of conjecture it would take to mention race here. That's an unfortunate comment. It bothers me, too, Daughter.

Anyway. There are many studies done about this very thing, how that wearing artificial nails in healthcare environment has directly contributed to more contamination, more infections. Google those and read a few, if you want to have a better understanding of how to approach the topic from a scientific standpoint and you can approach this in a way to enlist the willing compliance of the caregiver. They sound like they want to take good care of your mom and they must not be aware of the potential for problems with the nails.
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surprise Apr 18, 2018
I could have sworn people of all races wear long fingernails from salons. When I walk by at Walmart I see all levels of socioeconomics too.

Short nails are essential for infection control. When mom gets C-Diff and worker takes it home to her baby, she is not going to be happy at all!
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Midkid58 Apr 18, 2018
Hubby had a liver transplant 12 years ago--I happened to be wearing longer (still pretty short) acrylic nails, as we had just had a wedding in the family, and I was keeping up the "look"--Hubby's dr took my hand one night at the hospital and said "I know what you're going to be doing tonight...these have GOT TO GO". Ugh. Painful to remove and ugly, thins nails underneath....but absolutely, harbingers of bacteria we did not want around him.

Now, out of habit, I keep my nails so short they couldn't scratch anyone.

Also, when I worked Elder Care, we could not have long fake nails either. It was as much to protect US as our clients.
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