Q: A herpetic whitlow can occur if the:
(A). Clinician did not wear a mask
(B). Clinician’s mask was torn
(C). Clinician’s gloves were torn
(D). Patient did not take her pre-medications
Herpetic whitlow is caused by the herpes simplex virus and appears on the fingers. The herpes virus is communicable and clinicians can contract the virus from the patient if gloves were not worn, or if there was a defect in the glove.
If the patient presents with herpes, the treatment is usually postponed until the vesicles disappear.
Answer: C. Clinician’s gloves were torn
Learn more for the dental hygiene boards
Let’s look at the other answer choices and understand why they are not the correct answers.
- Masks are used to filter bacteria from being inhaled and are therefore not related to an infection on the finger.
- Pre-procedural rinse, although commonly done, has not been proven to prevent contamination from the herpes virus.
- Pre-medications according to the CDC are not indicated for oral herpes. Drugs such as Acyclovir can help resolve the condition faster but is not a pre-medication for the herpes simplex virus.
In any situation, make sure to wear your PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) to protect the skin and the mucous membranes of the eyes, nose, and mouth of the clinician.
Infection control is in the dental setting is very important. What you experience at dental hygiene school may be very different to a “real life” setting, but make sure to be updated on the new guidelines. And most of all, keep review with StudentRDH to PASS the dental hygiene boards (NBDHE, NDHCE)!
CDC guidelines about PPE in the dental setting
The most trusted source for infection control is the CDC website. You can find a whole lot of information and get lost! So here is the direct link to a published guideline called Guidelines for Infection Control in Dental Health-Care Setting – 2003. Here are some of the highlights related to the dental hygiene boards:
- Standard precautions include the use of PPE (e.g., gloves, masks, protective eyewear or face shield, and gowns) intended to prevent skin and mucous membrane exposures. Other protective equipment (e.g., finger guards while suturing) might also reduce injuries during dental procedures.
- PPE is designed to protect the skin and the mucous membranes of the eyes, nose, and mouth of DHCP from exposure to blood or OPIM.
- All PPE should be removed before DHCP leave patient-care areas.
- Reusable PPE (e.g., clinician or patient protective eyewear and face shields) should be cleaned with soap and water, and when visibly soiled, disinfected between patients, according to the manufacturer’s directions.
- Wearing gloves, surgical masks, protective eyewear, and protective clothing in specified circumstances to reduce the risk of exposures to bloodborne pathogens is mandated by OSHA.
- General work clothes (e.g., uniforms, scrubs, pants, and shirts) are neither intended to protect against a hazard nor considered PPE.
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Today, I wanted the chance to introduce our team to you. There is me (Claire), my sister (dentist and co-founder), and many more amazing contributors. We all worked to ensure that the content was 100% valid. Also, we constantly monitor the new guidelines so we can provide you with the most updated information. If you would like to see the list of contributors, click here!
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