Can Nurses Wear Nail Polish at Work or School?

In short, yes, most nurses can wear nail polish.

Nevertheless, using nail polish depends on the employer, work setting, and healthcare facility/department.

Ultimately healthcare facilities implement their policies based on numerous factors.

It includes sanitary practices, patient/employee health risks, the healthcare setting, potential environmental hazards, dress-code guidelines, and more.

As a result, some facilities allow nurses to wear nail polish, while others restrict or ban its use altogether.

For example, a low-risk healthcare department or doctor’s office may allow basic nail polish if it doesn’t present a hazard.

However, high-risk infectious environments such as the ICU, surgical department, or transplant unit may restrict or ban its use.

These policies ensure safety and health by maintaining sanitary hand hygiene compliance with the healthcare facility.

Nurses must keep their nails trimmed and well-manicured to ensure that they don’t harbor infectious germs under their nails.

Additionally, nurses must wash their hands frequently and use special soap/hand sanitizers to remove germs when dealing with patients.

Healthcare facilities that allow nurses to wear nail polish require finishes that don’t chip or break.

Furthermore, most facilities ban using acrylic nails, artificial nails, gel nails, and extensions.

The healthcare facility, the state, the government, and CDC generally set these guidelines.

With that said, nurses cover their feet for sanitary and safety purposes. Therefore, wearing nail polish and other products on their toes/feet is likely o.k.

After all, you can completely cover them with clogs or nursing shoes.

In the end, nurses must always check with human resources and the department to ensure they follow proper protocol.

College and University Rules

In addition to healthcare facilities, colleges/universities may restrict certain nail products.

Ultimately, they can require nursing students to follow specific guidelines or ban nail products completely.

As with healthcare facilities, nursing college/university policies vary based on the school.

Furthermore, most nursing schools require students to be drug tested and even run a background check before admission.

It prepares students for their careers and sets a standard for what the college deems acceptable for their program.

These rules give students an early understanding of the policies they must abide by as registered nurses.

It also allows the nursing school to set dress-code policies and healthcare requirements.

Reasons for Banning Nail Polish and Acrylics

A healthcare facility will ban nail polish, acrylics, gels, extensions, and other products for several reasons.

It includes unwanted nail chipping/breaking, germ collection and infectious transmission, and work hazards caused by extensions.

These factors can negatively impact patient/employee health, increase hazardous risks, and create an unprofessional appearance.

Because patient care is of the utmost importance, healthcare providers must follow safety guidelines to minimize infection risks of nail polish.

Chipping and Breaking

One of the most common concerns with nail polish is the potential of chipping and breaking.

Depending on the polish applied to the nails; there’s a chance for chipping and breaking to occur.

It can create health concerns at the healthcare center as chipped/broken nail polish can transfer germs, infectious diseases, and harmful bacteria.

Furthermore, it’s unprofessional and creates conflict among patients treated by that healthcare professional.

As a result, most healthcare departments limit the use of certain nail products.

Additionally, high-risk environments may completely ban their use altogether.

It reduces the risk of harmful bacteria, germs, and diseases negatively impacting patients’ and employees’ health.

That said, high-quality nail polish is acceptable if the healthcare facility considers it satisfactory.

Germ Collection

As mentioned previously, acrylics or fake nails collect germs and bacteria that can transfer to other individuals.

It violates healthcare facilities ‘ hand-hygiene policies and CDC guidelines.

Furthermore, it creates a potential for germs and bacteria to spread from person to person and affect the nurse’s health.

Most nurses must remove acrylics, fake nails, and nail extensions.

Additionally, nurses must ensure that their nails are the appropriate length before starting their shift.

It is true even when it’s their natural nails. Besides collecting germs, long nails can scratch and cut people and even create a hazard when handling equipment.

Interference with Work

One of the reasons healthcare facilities prohibit acrylics (and long natural nails) is that they interfere with everyday work.

Nails that are too long may make it challenging to manipulate specific tools or equipment.

Ultimately, this creates potential work hazards that can negatively impact the employee and patient.

For instance, applying bandages, changing an IV, using syringes, wearing gloves, and manipulating equipment are much more difficult with long nails.

Therefore many healthcare facilities require nurses to trim their nails and ban acrylics and nail extensions.

Even if nurses are cautious and take proper care of their hands, the risk is too high for most facilities to accept.

What About Hand Cream Lotion?

Hand cream lotions are essential for most trained nurses. As a result, they’re relatively commonplace in healthcare settings.

Nurses wash their hands frequently, which can cause dryness, cracking, and bleeding.

As a result, nurses often apply hand creams to ensure proper moisture and avoid unwanted skin issues from dry hands.

Furthermore, hand creams provide valuable nutrients to the skin, which is extremely important for skin care.

With that said, there are several factors nurses need to keep in mind when using hand creams.

First, most workplaces prefer scentless hand creams. It is because nurses and patients can be sensitive to certain odors.

Therefore, scentless hand creams allow for a better experience for everyone.

Secondly, consider the hand cream’s moisturization and oiliness before using it.

Hand creams that are too oily can leave a residue and even create a hazard if your fingers are slippery.

On the other hand, low-quality hand creams can contribute to your hands feeling dry and uncomfortable.

Finally, make sure the hand cream uses high-quality ingredients to protect your skin from damage.

Over time the high-quality ingredients will significantly impact your hand health and reduce skin cracks, wrinkles, and damage.

It is essential because skin damage, cracks, and cuts create opportunities for bacteria and harmful infections.

Bottom Line

Using nail polish is perfectly acceptable in work settings that allow essential nail products.

However, nail polish rules can vary dramatically depending on who the nurse works for and their department.

Furthermore, state and government guidelines on nail polish and hand hygiene can impact the products nurses can use.

For nurses unsure whether they can use nail products, contact your health department or ask human resources.

Nurses may be required to follow specific hand-hygiene protocols, such as trimming their nails and avoiding certain polishes.

It is especially true regarding nail accessories and working in high-risk departments.

Nurses must always follow their company/school policies and dress code guidelines.

It will ensure that they comply with the rules and do not get in trouble with their supervisor.

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