Comparison of the efficiency of nail pick and brush used for nail cleaning during surgical scrub on reducing bacterial counts

Am J Infect Control. 2012 Nov;40(9):826-9. doi: 10.1016/j.ajic.2011.10.021. Epub 2012 Feb 18.


Background: Although the surgical scrub is a mandatory and routine procedure, there is no standard recommendation for nail cleaning during the scrub. This study compared the efficacy of nail picks and brushes used for nail cleaning during the surgical scrub in reducing bacterial counts.

Methods: Sixty circulatory nurses were included in the survey. The nurses were randomized to undertake 1 of 3 surgical hand scrub protocols: using surgical scrub alone (control group), using a nail pick during the surgical scrub, or using a brush during the surgical scrub. Bacterial counts were measured on the dominant hand immediately before the scrub and 1 hour after the scrub using the glove juice method.

Results: The bacterial counts at 1 hour after the surgical scrub were lower in the control group than in the 2 intervention groups, and there was no significant difference between the 2 intervention groups (F = 2.063; P = .136; P > .05).

Conclusion: Using nail picks and brushes on nails during the surgical scrub does not provide additional decontamination.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Bacteria / isolation & purification*
  • Bacterial Load
  • Female
  • Hand Disinfection / instrumentation*
  • Hand Disinfection / methods*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nails / microbiology*
  • Young Adult