Nose Sanitizer

Washing our hands removes germs and keeps us from getting sick. When we don’t have access to soap and water, we often use hand sanitizers that kill the germs on our hands instead.

But did you know that germs also live inside our noses? About one-third of all people carry Staphylococcus aureus in their noses. That’s the germ that causes staph infection. Similarly, they can also carry MRSA, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, a type of staph infection resistant to many common antibiotics.

For the most part, those germs won’t affect the people who carry them. People will lead normal lives with no infections and no idea they have the germs. However, that can change when there is an illness, a weakened immune system or a procedure that opens the body.

So what can one do? It’s hard to use soap and water to wash away the germs in a nose. So now, there is another option – that is very safe for patients and their noses.

Penn Highlands Healthcare hospitals are using Nozin, a type of nose sanitizer, according to Sue Stiner, MSN, RN, CIC, Director, Infection Prevention & Control Inpatient Dialysis at Penn Highlands DuBois.

This American-made advanced antiseptic does not require a prescription, and some people have already found it for purchase online and use it at home.

Nozin is a liquid that contains 62 percent alcohol and inactive ingredients, such as jojoba, orange oil and vitamin E for moisturizing. It is applied at the front of the nostril, causes no discomfort and has a nice citrus-smell.

By killing off the germs in the nose, research shows that the number of infections is reduced for patients. Also, recovery for illnesses or surgeries are shorter if your body isn’t fighting off infections or possible infections.

Like washing your hands, however, it must be routinely done to be affective. Using the nasal sanitizer to kill germs is often referred to in hospital settings as “decolonizing.” Decolonizing means you are killing off the colony, or group, of germs.

For patients who are coming in for surgeries – “pre-op patients” - they will receive Nozin the morning of surgery and then every 12 hours during their stay. This is very important because we can wash germs off the skin, but as people breathe, they may be spreading the germs back to themselves.

For all admissions age 2 and older, they will be decolonized every 12 hours. This will allow some patients who have seemed very healthy but previously tested positive for MRSA to be admitted and not require visitors to use gowns, gloves and masks around them.

Penn Highlands Brookville, Penn Highlands Clearfield, Penn Highlands DuBois and Penn Highlands Elk have just started using Nozin. Penn Highlands Huntingdon has been using the product for several months.

“Patients have been very accepting of this,” Marlene Pierce, CPHQ, Director of Quality Improvement at Penn Highlands Huntingdon, said. “We feel that the whole process is going well.”

“Keeping our patients safe from infection is very important,” Debra Thomas, Chief Nursing Officer at Penn Highlands Clearfield and Penn Highlands Brookville, said. “This is a simple way to do it.”

“We are always evaluating and learning,” Beth Keth RN, BSN, Organizational Performance Improvement/Patient Safety Officer at Penn Highlands Brookville said. “Many of our processes for safety take place without patients seeing them. This is just one that many of our patients may notice as different and new.”

“If anyone has any concerns about this nasal sanitizer, feel free to ask the nurses as they have had education on this product or ask specifically to talk to Infection Prevention, Patient Safety or Quality Improvement nurses. We are happy to talk to patients and their families,” Rhonda Chilson, RN, Quality/Infection Control Director Penn Highlands Elk, said.