Occupational dermatitis in the healthcare profession

The skin of healthcare professionals is regularly put to the test, particularly on the hands: repeated washing, wearing gloves, handling chemicals, etc. This leads to the appearance of occupational dermatosis, which is a source of discomfort for healthcare workers.



Which healthcare professionals are concerned by occupational eczema?

Occupational dermatitis in healthcare workers affects all types of caregivers: physicians, pharmacists, nurses, nurses' aides, etc.

A history of atopic eczema or allergic eczema is sometimes found but is not always observed. Occupational dermatosis can set in overnight, in people without any skin problems. Occupational dermatosis can be recognized as an occupational disease in its own right and lead to a career change being necessary.

What are the substances involved?

Occupational dermatitis in healthcare workers can be caused by a wide variety of substances: those applied to the hands (hydro-alcoholic solution, disinfectant soap, gloves, etc.), those applied to the patient at the time of care (antiseptic, dressing glue, etc.), those used in the hospital for disinfection purposes (formaldehyde, bleach, etc.).

There are two types of occupational dermatitis in healthcare workers: on the one hand, there is irritant dermatitis, because most of the substances mentioned above are irritating; on the other hand, there are allergic contact eczemas, during which the caregiver develops a genuine immune reaction to the substance, such as allergy to formaldehyde or allergy to an antiseptic.

How can you avoid occupational eczema?

Occupational dermatoses in healthcare workers can be avoided by taking a few simple measures. Among them, the wearing of gloves is essential, both to protect yourself, protect others and preserve your skin. In case of allergy to gloves, change the material to be able to continue wearing them. Taking care of your hands also involves a few simple rules. Wash your hands with mild soap and water whenever possible. To compensate for the sometimes-drying effect of hydro-alcoholic gel, apply an insulating barrier cream before and during the working day. 

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