A suspension of Staphylococcus aureus deposited on the skin was much more effectively removed by soap-and-water washing when it had been spread and allowed to dry (mean survival 2%) than when it had been rubbed on to the skin (mean survival 29.9%); when antiseptics (70% ethyl alcohol, Hibiscrub without added water) were used, there was no difference between their action against bacteria dried on and bacteria rubbed on to the skin; both of these methods, and especially alcohol, were more effective than soap and water. When a detergent-disinfectant method (washing with Hibiscrub and water) was used, there was a significantly greater effect against rubbed-on than against dried-on bacteria; soap and water was slightly more effective than Hibiscrub and water against the latter. The need to reappraise methods of reducing transient skin flora in 'hygienic' hand cleansing and the tests used for this purpose are discussed.
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