Tue | Feb 25, 2020

Take hand infections seriously - Neil

Published:Tuesday | October 30, 2018 | 12:00 AMJason Cross/Gleaner Writer

Dr Ian Neil, head of orthopaedics at the Kingston Public Hospital (KPH), has said skin bleaching is one of the main causes of the cases of hand infections seen at Kingston Public Hospital.

Neil, who was one of the main presenters at the 11th annual Kingston Public Hospital Clinical and Scientific Conference, held at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel, New Kingston, urged persons to treat cases of hand infections seriously, and advised against skin bleaching.

Neil pointed out that certain professionals are more susceptible to hand infections, like cosmetologists and construction workers. He also said persons should avoid being bitten by other humans.

"The study is about the burden of hand infections at KPH. Handwashing is a big problem. Skin bleaching is a particular problem. Bleaching substances include steroids. Steroids don't stay on the skin, but is absorbed into the body and weakens the immune system. Human and animal bites are risk factors. Serious hand infections can result from human bites, because the human mouth has a large range of aggressive bacteria," Neil told The Gleaner.

Alarmingly, he pointed out that young people frequent KPH with hand infections, and said 30 per cent of the 5,000 persons seeking orthopaedic services have hand infections. That is roughly 1,500 persons.

"Everybody who gets a hand infection loses the use of the hand until they are appropriately treated. Severe ones end up permanently disabled. The puzzling part is that [medical literature] speaks to hand infection being a thing in people who have conditions like AIDS. We are now observing that nine out of 10 patients don't have any such thing."

He continued: "We are seeing more young people, for no good reason at all, coming in up to six times per day, with hand infections. They damage their hands doing everyday activities, like being cut by a fish bone or if something sticks them. They will even use a hot needle to prick it, thinking they are letting the infection out, but [it] actually inoculates the area with bugs and bacteria, and sometimes the infection is very aggressive".