NYMC Faculty Publications

The Glitz and Glamour Randomized Trial: The Effect of Fingernail Polish on Post-Caesarean Surgical Site Infection

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Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology

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Obstetrics and Gynecology


Current surgical scrub guidelines suggest that fingernail polish should not be worn by healthcare providers despite collective evidence not demonstrating a relationship between fingernail polish and surgical-site infection (SSI). The purpose of this study was to determine the effect of surgical staff wearing nail polish on the incidence of SSI after caesarean delivery. In this calendar block-randomised clinical trial, surgical staff were assigned to wear nail polish or to have unpainted nails for alternating two-week periods. The primary outcome was surgical site infection within 6 weeks of caesarean delivery. There were 372 patients in the nail polish arm and 465 in the polish-free arm. The rate of SSIs was not significantly different between the nail polish arm and the polish-free arm (1.3% vs 2.8%  = .155). We found the rate of SSI following caesarean delivery is not significantly affected by surgical staff wearing fingernail polish.Impact Statement Current surgical scrub guidelines state that fingernail polish should not be worn by healthcare providers even though the collective evidence has not been able to show the relationship between fingernail polish and surgical site infection. Previous studies have only used bacterial colony count after handwashing as a primary endpoint. The evidence they provide for developing scrub guidelines have been contradictory and inconclusive. To better inform surgical scrub guidelines, evidence is needed that evaluates the effect of fingernail polish on clinically significant endpoints. Our study, Glitz & Glamour, examined 885 non-emergent Caesarian sections using a calendar-block schedule to determine if wearing nail polish had an impact on rates of surgical site infection. Results suggested that fingernail polish had no difference on frequency of surgical site infections, and neither condition of the polish (chipped vs. freshly applied) nor the type of polish (gel vs. regular) had any impact either.