The Covid-19 pandemic means more and more industries are turning to scrubs as their uniform of choice. Traditionally worn by surgeons, scrubs are now being worn by nurses, care workers, beauticians and other workers in the private healthcare sector.
With so many newcomers to medical scrubs, UK’s top supplier Alexandra has put together this guide that will answer your most frequently asked questions about them.
What are scrubs?
Scrubs were originally only used by NHS Trusts and private hospitals. Since Covid-19, all healthcare industry workers are being asked to wear them.
Worn in medical settings and now the wider healthcare sector, scrubs are a kind of clothing designed to help prevent the spread of infection. They do this by forming a barrier between the wearer and infectious substances to reduce the risk of infection and cross-contamination.
Scrubs are loose-fitting and don’t restrict movement, so they’re designed to be easy to wear by all kinds of clinicians. They are also washable at high temperatures to keep them clean from any bacteria or viruses that may be present on them after a shift.
Who wears scrubs?
Due to the Coronavirus pandemic (Covid-19), many more roles are being asked to wear scrubs to keep them protected:
Theatre Staff – The staple of theatre staff uniforms for decades. Scrubs are easy to change out of between patients and are loose enough to not restrict the precise movements of surgery.
Nurses – Providing nurses the same benefits as they do theatre staff, scrubs can be worn as an alternative to traditional nursing uniforms.
Patients – In some areas, they can be used as patient wear to help with dignity; they can be worn as pyjamas instead of traditional gowns.
Beauticians – To help slow the spread of the virus, beauticians are now wearing scrubs in their business colours to keep themselves safer.
Care workers – With a greater focus on infection control, carers are being encouraged to swap to scrubs from tunics and polos to help combat Covid-19.
All NHS Trusts, private hospitals, care homes and businesses have their own uniform guidelines they will expect their staff to adhere to. Check your workplace uniform guidelines before buying any workwear.
What are the different kinds of medical scrubs?
Since 2002 scrubs have grown in popularity in the UK and are now available in a range of styles for clinical and non-clinical roles.
Alexandra’s scrubs are made from polycotton, a 65% polyester to 35% cotton material. The mix of man-made and natural fibres maintains the benefits of both and makes for a very strong, comfortable and safe scrubs material:
Strong: in polycotton, the plastic polyester serves to strengthen the natural wool to form a much more durable material without sacrificing comfort.
Comfortable: polyester is strong but it isn’t a very breathable material. Cotton is weaker but allows for a better transfer of heat. By combining the two, you get the perfect material for scrubs.
Washable to 60ºC: polycotton can withstand high enough temperatures to make sure the risk of infection and contamination is eliminated through the washing process.
What do the different colours of scrubs mean?
Every NHS Trust and private hospital has its own uniform guidelines, so there is no correct answer to this. Many hospitals use the different colours of scrubs to denote different roles with each one using its own colour hierarchy.
There are general principles, however, that most hospitals stick to:
Surgical scrubs are almost always a solid colour, either light grey, light green, light blue or a light green-blue shade.
Non-surgical scrubs come in a large variety of colours, designs and fits. These are the style you’ll often see ward nurses wearing on the shift in hospitals.
During the 1940s, surgeons tended to wear white drapes and gowns in operating theatres. During this time, the white would be too reflective and dazzle surgeons under the bright theatre lights so their fabric changed to green. This switch stopped the dazzling and provided a high-contrast to the blood of surgery so surgeons found they could concentrate better on the operation.
How should scrubs be washed?
Every NHS Trust and private hospital has different policies for the washing of uniforms. Scrubs that are worn in theatre will always be washed by the hospital themselves, as the risk of contamination is too great for staff to take them home.
Scrubs worn by nurses on wards may be washed by the nurses themselves depending on a workplace’s policy..