What is Occupational Dermatitis?

Dermatitis is a condition of the skin where it becomes red, itchy, and inflamed. When it is acquired in the workplace, it is then referred to as occupational dermatitis. This condition is the most common form of skin disorder that is acquired in the workplace, with insurance claims reaching up to a million dollars every year. The occupational factor has been easy to conclude because dermatitis has unique causes that are mostly present in certain workplaces, and there are more people from the workplace who do indeed sustain this condition.

The causes of occupational dermatitis are many and greatly vary. However, there are common characteristics that lead them to become causes for the skin condition. One factor is that these substances often irritate the skin. Regardless of how minor the irritation level may be, the repeated exposure over time eventually causes these substances to result to dermatitis. In most cases, the repeated exposure even leads to these substances becoming allergens or agents that result to allergic reactions. Most of these substances also include particles that can be airborne and trapped against the skin. In other cases, these causing agents are even saturated in the clothes, thus becoming causes of eczema. The fact that these substances can be carried by the air makes the condition easily transmitted, and also having no discretion as to who will be affected. Workplaces that deal with chemicals are also potentially great risks that cause occupational eczema especially those substances that become toxic once they are exposed to sunlight.

Due to the number of possible causes that can lead to occupational eczema, it seems that any job position in any industry is at risk of this condition. Through the different studies that have been made over the years, it was observed however that certain occupations are more prone to occupational dermatitis. Some of these are the positions of housekeeper, bricklayer, workers in the mechanical industry, healthcare workers, and those who work as hairdressers. In fact, people with these occupations comprise more than sixty per cent of all cases of occupational dermatitis. Studies in Europe also concluded that janitors, maids, bakers, cooks, and agricultural workers were more at risk of having this condition than other occupations available.

On top of these more risky occupations, it has also been found that the condition is more prevalent in women than in men. The condition was also found to be worse in the cases of female patients than their male counterparts. Another factor that adds to the risks of occupational dermatitis is the act of getting the hands repeatedly wet and dry. This act is said to cause damages to the skin’s protective layers, thus making the body more prone to irritants and allergens that are in the environment.

These cases of occupational dermatitis often become chronic conditions that can last for years, with some patients even experiencing the disorder throughout their lifetime. To avoid this condition and to minimize the risks, it is advised that a skin care regimen be followed regularly to make sure that the skin is not contaminated with any harmful agents. Of course, it is also best to avoid any substances that may lead to dermatitis.