Advanced work wear resists the spread of harmful bacteria, fungi, and other threats.
The antimicrobial industry will gross an estimated $191 million this year, and that figure is only expected to increase. This explosive growth is being fueled by a troubling development in the nation’s hospitals – bacteria that’s resistant to disinfectants and antibiotics. The so-called “nightmare bacteria” is nearly impossible to treat, and more than 220 cases were reported in hospitals in 2017. While scientists and researchers scramble to find stronger treatments, perhaps the most promising solution is prevention in the form of antimicrobial scrubs.
What are antimicrobial scrubs?
On their own, antimicrobials are natural or synthetic products that are used to stop microorganisms from reproducing or kill them completely. These microorganisms include bacteria, viruses, fungi, and even protozoa. Antimicrobial scrubs are hospital uniforms that are created with these bacteria-destroying agents infused into the fabric. Their primary goal is to stop the spread of harmful bacteria from healthcare workers to patients and between workers.
Though antimicrobial scrubs are designed to make hospitals safer and cleaner for all, they might be specially designed to achieve one of several specific goals:
- One version is designed to stop microbes from spreading. This particular agent binds itself to the microbe’s DNA, which effectively makes reproduction impossible.
- Other versions are created to target a specific virus or bacteria. This more targeted approach can be more effective, especially when it comes to battling common hospital infections like salmonella, Staph, and E. Coli.
- Additionally, antimicrobial scrubs can target and break down microbes’ proteins, which are essential to their growth.
- There’s also a fabric that’s enhanced with fluid barrier technology. This technology resists the transmission of fluids (from the exterior surface to the interior surface) without reducing the breath ability of the scrub fabric, while still keeping the bacteria at bay.
Benefits of antimicrobial scrubs
In addition to stopping the spread of dangerous infections, antimicrobial scrubs can reduce the accumulation of odors and stains on scrubs, which in turn improves their longevity. These scrubs also come in a variety of colors and styles. As antimicrobial technology develops at a rapid pace, these scrubs are readily available, with more advanced versions hitting the market every year.
When antimicrobial scrubs and uniforms aren’t used, the health of patients and healthcare workers could be at risk. A 2012 study published in the Journal of Public Health and Epidemiology found that healthcare workers picked up various Staph and bacillus species on their scrubs during just one shift. These bacteria could then be spread to office desks, break rooms, computers, and other shared technology. This can lead to outbreaks and infections like MRSA, treatments for which cost the healthcare industry $20 billion a year.
Antimicrobials beyond hospitals
Outside of hospitals, antimicrobial uniforms are popping up in veterinary practices, workout facilities, and restaurants.
Antimicrobials could be a game changer for the latter category. Health and safety standards are critical to restaurants’ success and legal compliance, and there are many opportunities for bacteria to thrive and spread via menus, tables, and shared condiment shakers. Patrons and workers could benefit equally.
In short, antimicrobial uniforms are one of the most effective ways to keep healthcare facilities clean and safe, and could also have the same positive impact in fitness centers, restaurants, and beyond.