What words strike fear in the hearts of oncologists? When their patients say, “I’m going to the spa.” Why, you may wonder? Well, one of the primary concerns for oncologists and nurses is sanitation when it comes to their patients getting spa treatments. As skin therapists, we work in an environment that is frequented by many, is small and has a lot of prime spots for those sneaky germs to hide. Steamers, towel cabbies, trolleys, product bottles, brushes and sponges are all potential breeding grounds for bacteria.
The importance of adhering to strict levels of sanitation cannot be stressed enough, particularly when delivering skincare care treatments for cancer patients. Usually we don’t think too much about it; we sanitize our tools, wipe down our trolleys at the end of the day and keep things tidy. It isn’t problematic as a general rule because our standard clients are not affected in the same way that clients with cancer are.
However, skin treatments for cancer patients it is a new sanitation ball game. As a refresher, here are some basic guidelines to double check your cleaning habits:
• Sanitation must be done utilizing an EPA-registered, hospital-grade sanitizing agent – one that is bactericidal, virucidal, fungicidal, and tuberculocidal.
• Use disposables where possible.
• White sheets, towels and robes allow for bleach in the washing machine along with color free, fragrance free detergent.
• All brushes and implements must be washed in anti-bacterial soap to remove loose debris prior to soaking in wet sanitizer for 10 minutes. Brushes/implements are washed again with soap to remove disinfectant air dried. Once dry, all implements are to be stored in a covered storage container.
• All surfaces should be wiped down with a germicidal sani-cloth (not a Clorox cloth) in-between treatments. Residue should remain on the surface as directed by manufacturer.
• Wet sanitizing agent should remain on hard surfaces according to length of time specified by manufacturer before removal to be effective.
• Bowls should be washed thoroughly with anti-bacterial soap and dried in-between clients.
• Products that were used should be wiped down with a germicidal sani-cloth, paying particular attention to the neck of the tube or pump where product can accumulate and provide a hospitable environment for those pesky bacteria.
• Equipment that was used during treatment, trolleys and even treatment room doorknobs should be wiped down with a germicidal sani-cloth in-between guests.
• Rubbish bins should be emptied in between guests.
• Frequent hand washing cannot be stressed strongly enough, for both therapist and client.
• Wash floor of all spills in between clients.
• Wipe out towel cabinet with germicidal sani-cloth to prevent growth of bacteria.
• Empty steamer frequently and keep a supply of fresh distilled water; leave to dry when not in use.
• Ensure there is enough time for adequate sanitation practices in between clients.
To reduce the risk of exposure to many common (and for most people, harmless) germs, your facility may want to consider setting a day aside specifically for clients who have cancer.
Overall, implementing these sanitation protocols will help reduce risk for all guests, and having your sanitation practices outlined and available for review will alleviate many fears. Happy Sanitizing!
Sanitation and Clients with Cancer
by Sharon Bell, US