Why High-Touch Employees Should Decolonize Their Nose

January 15, 2021


With the global focus set on public health and infection prevention, some employees may find themselves at a higher risk of exposure to germs. In particular, people who work in jobs that involve high levels of physical contact with others are more likely to be exposed to germs.

Professionals who may need to take extra precautions against potential infection include:

  • Hairdressers, barbers, cosmetologists, and others who work in the health and beauty industry
  • People who work in spa settings, such as massage therapists, spa attendants, aestheticians, and nail technicians
  • Personal trainers and athletes playing contact sports
  • Those who work in retail environments, such as cashiers or customer service support
  • People who work with children, including teachers, childcare professionals, and nannies
  • Restaurant and hospitality professionals, including servers, bartenders, concierge staff and bouncers
  • Public transportation and airline workers
  • Janitorial staff and those who work in the commercial cleaning or sanitation industry
  • Healthcare workers who have direct patient contact

For those who spend a lot of time coming into contact with other people or out in public, decolonizing the nose is an important step to help defend against germs.


Bacteria in the Nose

Germs are everywhere, including on the skin. Studies show that the nose is a hotspot for germs, some of the most common include:

  • Staphylococcus aureus: Studies have shown that 10-30% of people carry this bacteria in their noses, which can cause staph infections [1]. Another recent study found that the number of carriers might be as high as 41% in some populations [2].
  • Enterobacteriaceae: This large family of bacteria includes E. coli and Salmonella and may lead to serious infections, especially in healthcare settings. A third of the population has been shown to have these bacteria living in their nose [2].
  • Neisseria meningitidis: Around 10% of people have these bacteria in their nose. N. meningitides is capable of causing meningococcal disease, which can be serious or even fatal [3].

Groups of bacteria in the nose are commonly referred to as colonies. It is possible for a person to be asymptomatically colonized and because they don’t experience any symptoms or signs of illness, they may not be taking steps to reduce the transmission of bacteria from themselves to others. Individuals working in high-contact industries are at a higher risk of transmitting or acquiring bacteria from customers or coworkers.


The Danger of Bacterial Nasal Colonization

Nasal colonization of bacteria is not always indicative of active infection; however, carriers may be at a higher risk of future illness. If a person’s immune system becomes compromised or the bacteria has the opportunity to enter the body through a wound or surgical incision site, the nose becomes a vector for bacteria that can easily spread throughout the body and may lead to infection. For example:

  • Colonized patients are between two and ten times more likely to develop surgical site infections when they have surgery [4]
  • Nasal colonization has been shown to lead to bacterial infections of the bloodstream in some cases [1]
  • Bacterial colonization within the respiratory tract can make a person more likely to develop a viral infection [5]

Nasal decolonization, also known as sanitizing the nose, is a safe, clinically-proven practice used in thousands of hospitals and medical facilities across the country for infection prevention. Workers who have high-contact jobs, across all industries, should consider this a vital practice to help protect themselves and those around them from the risk of infection.

Decolonizing the nose, referred to as nasal decolonization in the healthcare setting, is a strategy that has been used in hospitals for decades. Healthcare organizations often use nasal decolonization to help protect patients and healthcare workers from the risk of infection. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has released guidelines recommending nasal decolonization for high-risk patients. It has been shown that this preventative measure can help to reduce the risk of infections across the facility. The CDC also recommends that hospitals implement a nasal decolonization protocol for patients who are undergoing certain surgeries or are staying in the ICU [6]. In many cases, when these recommendations have been implemented in healthcare organizations, infection rates have decreased leading to improved patient outcomes [7].


How to Decolonize the Nose

Decolonizing the nose is a quick and simple step that should be included as a component of daily hygiene practice. Most nasal antiseptics are applied topically to the inner rim of each nostril, although some application varies by product.  

To decolonize the nose, it is recommended to use a product that is hospital-tested, clinically proven to kill germs in the nose, and specially formulated for that purpose. When choosing a product to decolonize the nose, it is important to note that not all nasal hygiene products kill germs. For example, saline sprays, decongestants, or neti pots, can help to remove mucus and clear congestion but will not kill germs in the nose.

Millions of Americans count on Nozin® Nasal Sanitizer® antiseptic to decolonize their nose each year. Trusted by hundreds of hospitals across the country and backed by clinical studies, it is proven to kill 99.99% of germs and protects for up to 12 hours. Nozin® Nasal Sanitizer® is an over-the-counter antiseptic that is safe for daily use, and pleasant and simple to apply. Just as nasal decolonization is used in healthcare to help prevent infections, sanitizing the nose is a strategy that should be adopted by the public to help stay healthy and prevent the spread of germs.


Other Protective Strategies

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recommends other strategies for workers who may be at higher risk of exposure to germs [9]:

  • Practice good hand hygiene: Wash your hands often. Scrub with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Alternately, use alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching the face: Keep your hands away from your nose, mouth, eyes, and facemask, unless you’ve just washed your hands.
  • Wear a mask: Use a mask that covers the face and nose. This is especially important for times when you can’t maintain at least six feet of distance between you and someone else. Sanitizing the nose is not a replacement for wearing a mask, but can be performed before or after potential exposure as an added layer of protection.
  • Cover coughs and sneezes: Use a tissue or the inside of your elbow to prevent respiratory droplets from flying into the air. If you use your hands to cover your mouth, wash them afterward.
  • Isolate yourself: If you’re experiencing symptoms of a potentially contagious illness, stay home to avoid spreading germs to others. Additionally, you may want to isolate yourself if you know you’ve been exposed to someone else with an infection.
  • Be aware of community risk: Keep yourself informed by listening to public health experts in your area. During times when there is a bug going around your community, you may want to take extra precautions.
  • Clean your work surfaces: Some germs may be able to survive on surfaces for several days. Using soap and water followed by disinfectants offers the most protection.



Employees who work in high-contact environments are often at greater risk of exposure to germs, but there are important steps that can be taken to help reduce risk and protect their health. Along with other hygiene measures such as hand washing and disinfecting the work environment, decolonizing the nose may help reduce the risk of infection.

Nozin® Nasal Sanitizer® antiseptic is an alcohol-based solution that targets 99.99% of germs in the nose. Professionals working in high-contact industries should consider adding Nozin to a daily hygiene routine to help reduce the spread of germs and protect themselves and those around them.



  1. Sakr A, Brégeon F, Mège JL, Rolain JM, Blin O. Staphylococcus aureus Nasal Colonization: An Update on Mechanisms, Epidemiology, Risk Factors, and Subsequent Infections. Front Microbiol. 2018;9:2419. Published 2018 Oct 8. doi:10.3389/fmicb.2018.02419
  2. Köck R, Werner P, Friedrich AW, Fegeler C, Becker K; Prevalence of Multiresistant Microorganisms (PMM) Study Group; Prevalence of Multiresistant Microorganisms PMM Study Group. Persistence of nasal colonization with human pathogenic bacteria and associated antimicrobial resistance in the German general population. New Microbes New Infect. 2015 Dec 1;9:24-34. doi: 10.1016/j.nmni.2015.11.004.
  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Meningococcal Disease: Causes and Spread to Others. Reviewed 2019 May 31. Available from: https://www.cdc.gov/meningococcal/about/causes-transmission.html
  4. Perl TM, Golub JE. New approaches to reduce Staphylococcus aureus nosocomial infection rates: treating S. aureus nasal carriage. Ann Pharmacother. 1998;32(1):S7-S16. doi:10.1177/106002809803200104
  5. Madhi SA, Klugman KP; Vaccine Trialist Group. A role for Streptococcus pneumoniae in virus-associated pneumonia. Nat Med. 2004;10(8):811-813. doi:10.1038/nm1077
  6. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Strategies to Prevent Hospital-onset Staphylococcus aureus Bloodstream Infections in Acute Care Facilities. Reviewed 2019 December 16. Available from: https://www.cdc.gov/hai/prevent/staph-prevention-strategies.html
  7. Franklin S. A safer, less costly SSI prevention protocol-Universal versus targeted preoperative decolonization. Am J Infect Control. 2020 Apr 28:S0196-6553(20)30135-8. doi: 10.1016/j.ajic.2020.02.012. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 32359812.
  8. Steed LL, Costello J, Lohia S, Jones T, Spannhake EW, Nguyen S. Reduction of nasal Staphylococcus aureus carriage in health care professionals by treatment with a nonantibiotic, alcohol-based nasal antiseptic. Am J Infect Control. 2014;42(8):841-846. doi:10.1016/j.ajic.2014.04.008
  9. United States Department of Labor. COVID-19: Control and Prevention. Available from: https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/covid-19/controlprevention.html

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