Eczema And The Case Of Occupational Dermatitis

There is another distinct grouping named for another type of eczema known these days — occupational dermatitis. In a nutshell, it is any type of eczema triggered by a person’s workplace.

People who develop eczema on the job have their own unique causes. For instance, chefs often have occupational dermatitis on the hands.

Reason? Chefs usually handles garlic, and after some years developed allergic contact dermatitis caused by an allergy to a compound found in garlic.


Today, there are about 5% of men and 10% of women who develop hand eczema caused by their workforce exposure. This happens when something that touches the skin causes irritation (called irritant contact dermatitis) or a straight allergic reaction (called allergic contact dermatitis).

The symptoms and signs of most occupational dermatitis usually grow out on the forearms and face, too.

Visible signs

The symptoms of occupational dermatitis often include dry, chapped skin for mild cases. For more severe cases, the skin is raw and irritated-looking, and with scaly top skin.

There is itching or burning sensation on the affected skin areas. If the condition lasts longer, there will be thickening of the affected skin.


There are many causes that trigger occupational dermatitis. Many skin specialists say that it’s not just one, but a combination of these causes that sometimes does the trick.

The top-listed one includes that repeated exposure to substances over time can irritate the skin, and that long-term exposure to a substance over time transforms that substance into an allergen.

The other causes are airborne particles that get embedded in clothes and against the skin (under the collar, along the waistband).

Harsh chemicals touching the hands or saturating the clothes cause eczema. Other workers get them from chemicals that become hazardous after being exposed to the sun. (These are most common in roof and agricultural workers.)

Risk factors

Like any other risks, people in certain occupations have greater risks in developing various forms of eczema than others. 5 occupations (housekeeper, brick layer, metal workers, hairdressers and health-care workers) were found to comprise 60% of reported cases.

Other occupations with higher-than-average risks include janitors and maids, florist, bakers, caterers, bartenders, cooks and agricultural workers.

Other factors include age (it decreases with age), gender (women are more prone), industry (agriculture and manufacturing are riskier), atopic conditions (people with allergic histories are susceptible), and environment (low humidity can damage the skin’s protection).


Like always, the sooner occupational dermatitis is diagnosed (and treated), the better. Long-term cases can be difficult to treat.

Treatment includes avoidance of causing agents (substances that triggers the irritation or allergy). “Avoidance” includes using a barrier cream, wearing gloves, or doing the job differently. Changes have to be done in homes, too (changing of soaps and detergents, etc).

Treatment also includes applying emollients and moisturizers regularly when depleted and all throughout the day. This might also include the use of topical (or oral) anti-itch antihistamines to control the irritation (itching).

Doctors sometimes use phototherapy treatments to control some patient’s overactive immune response. Infections are treated with the necessary antibiotics.

All in all, as in the treatment of the other eczema types, dermatologists would recommend a thorough skincare program to help prevent the conditions triggered by a person’s job from getting worse.

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The information provided in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended to substitute professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or wellness program.

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