An interactive light box is shedding light on just how many germs live on the hands of Hawke's Bay residents.

The initiative is part of Hawke's Bay District Health Board's patient safety week, and is aimed at encouraging hospital staff, patients and visitors to wash their hands.

HBDHB infection prevention and control advisor Debbie Fritz said the interactive light box instantly gave results, showing the importance of good hand hygiene.

"As soon as hands go under the blue light you can quite easily see white areas that glow, showing where the bugs are," Fritz said.

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Fritz said it helped to "very simply show people of any age where they need to do better in terms of washing their hands".

"A lot of people don't tend to scrub under their fingernails very well, for example, so plenty of children today especially have learnt an important hand hygiene tip."

The light box is visiting wards around the hospital this week as well as the Hastings and Napier Health Centres. It will be in the hospital's main entrance between 11am and noon on Thursday.