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Bare below the elbows

Bare Below the Elbows is an initiative aiming to improve the effectiveness of hand hygiene performed by health care workers.

The effectiveness of hand hygiene is improved when: skin is intact, nails are natural, short and unvarnished; hands and forearms are free of jewellery and sleeves are above the elbow.

Hand hygiene remains one of the most important measures in prevention of hospital acquired infections. Some hand hygiene culture change programs advocate a Bare Below the Elbows policy for all health care workers. Whilst the evidence to promote this as a formal policy is still developing, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that long sleeves be avoided. Long sleeves have been found to be contaminated with pathogens and can impede appropriate hand hygiene.


Last updated: 13 July 2017