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Dermatology Blog

Occupational diseases include skin diseases.

Occupational diseases include skin diseases.

The most common occupational diseases are skin diseases. They are known professionally as occupational dermatoses and account for almost a third of all occupational diseases in Europe. A closer look at the most common problems and their causes will give you an idea of how to protect your skin at work and how to prevent these problems.


Dermatitis means inflammation of the skin

Occupational dermatitis, an inflammation of the skin related to work, dominates the statistics for occupational skin diseases. People with dermatitis have red, itchy skin, which may develop blisters. In addition, the skin may be thickened and cracked, which is a source of uncomfortable, painful sensations. The causes of occupational dermatitis are straightforward - direct skin contact with certain chemicals or exposure to other risk factors in the workplace. The connection of the problem with work activity should be kept in mind, especially if the affected skin is on the hands, the condition improves when the person is not at work and worsens after returning to work. Another warning sign may be if the same problems occur in more than one person in the same workplace.

Irritant or contact dermatitis. Are you familiar with these terms?

The two terms most commonly heard in relation to occupational dermatitis are irritant dermatitis and contact dermatitis. Irritant dermatitis is much more common than contact dermatitis, but some people may experience both types of dermatitis at the same time. How do these two diseases differ?

In irritant dermatitis, which accounts for 80% of cases of occupational dermatitis, the skin is disturbed by various chemicals in cleaning and disinfecting agents or paints and solvents. Cutting fluid, wood dust or glass wool can also irritate the skin. However, mechanical damage to the skin caused by friction or minor abrasions can also be the cause. When frequent hand washing is added to these risk factors, the protective layer of the skin can easily be damaged. It then becomes very susceptible to damage and penetration of unwanted substances. Irritant dermatitis typically occurs directly at the points of contact with irritants.

Contact allergic dermatitis If the skin comes into contact with an allergenic substance, an allergy may develop after a period of time. The skin becomes red and itchy at the point of contact, but skin problems can also occur elsewhere on the body. The reaction usually does not occur immediately, but only hours or days after contact with the substance. The most common contact allergens are nickel, substances in cement and latex products, formaldehyde, resins or essential oils in cosmetics. The following sectors, for example, can therefore be considered at risk:
The electrical industry,
Furniture manufacturing,
Jewellery manufacturing.
The more frequent and intense the contact with the allergen, the higher the likelihood of developing contact dermatitis. Therefore, work safety, minimising contact with the allergen, selection of appropriate protective equipment and careful instruction for employees play a key role in the prevention of this occupational disease. When selecting protective gloves, do not forget the possible intolerance of latex or nitrile gloves. Allergies to latex or substances used in the manufacture of nitrile products can be very unpleasant. Fortunately, the range of materials used in the manufacture of protective equipment is wide and each industry or each employee can use the gloves that are most suitable for them.

How to protect hands from dermatitis?

Hands need to be protected not only with suitable gloves, but also with regular and gentle washing. Although washing products must thoroughly remove the chemicals and other substances used, they should not be irritating so as not to damage the protective layer of the skin. Hand hygiene can be supplemented with protective barrier creams. DermaGuard is particularly suitable for dry and sensitive skin, on which it forms a protective microfilm. The cream protects the hands from many chemicals, dust or plant and animal acids. The skin protection usually lasts 4 to 6 hours, during which time the cream is gradually removed by the natural acidity of sweat. However, if you wash your hands frequently after applying the cream or come into contact with, for example, silicone solvents, the protective barrier may disappear more quickly. Popular features of DermaGuard include easy absorption without a greasy film on the hands and a carefully formulated formula free of lanolin and perfume.


Occupational Dermatitis – Frequently Asked Questions. Health and Safety Authority Ireland, 2024: https://www.hsa.ie/eng/workplace_health/occupational_asthma_and_dermatitis/occupational_dermatitis_frequently_asked_questions

Kohánka V., Kudász F. Work-related skin diseases. European Agency for Safety and Health at Work, 7. září 2022: https://oshwiki.osha.europa.eu/en/themes/work-related-skin-diseases

Koller M.F., Foulds I.S. (2019). Cutting Fluids. In: John S., Johansen, J., Rustemeyer, T., Elsner, P., Maibach, H. (eds) Kanerva’s Occupational Dermatology. Springer, Cham. Doi: 10.1007/978-3-319-40221-5_64-2: https://link.springer.com/referenceworkentry/10.1007/978-3-319-40221-5_64-2

Davis C. M. Nitrile gloves dermatitis. American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology, 5. července 2023: https://www.aaaai.org/allergist-resources/ask-the-expert/answers/2023/nitrile

Frankel Y. Latex Glove Allergy. International Academy of Cosmetic Dermatology, 2024: https://iacdworld.org/latex-glove-allergy/



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