Occupational dermatitis is eczema that has developed because of something in the workplace. The most common type of this kind of eczema is contact dermatitis. It develops when the skin comes into contact with either an allergen or an irritant. These problems occur most commonly with prolonged exposure, or when the skin is broken and unable to withstand a specific irritant.
The two most common types of contact occupational dermatitis are irritant contact and allergen contact. Those caused by irritants occur more often. In this condition, the skin reaction may occur immediately or over time. The amount of time it takes for a reaction to occur will usually depend on the specific substance that causes the problem.
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Allergic contact dermatitis is the skin’s response to a specific agent that it has come into contact with. The body creates antibodies that attempt to get rid of the problem, causing an allergic reaction. If this is severe, medical attention may be required.
Occupational dermatitis typically occurs on the hands, arms, and face. Symptoms vary, depending on the substance causing the problem, but may include dry skin, chapped skin, redness, scaliness, blisters, ulcers, cracks in the skin, raw skin, and swelling. A person might also experience thickness of the skin, burning, itching, stinging, and skin that is very irritated.
Anyone who comes into contact with the same irritant over and over again may develop occupational dermatitis. Even mild products used for long periods of time can cause problems. Particles in the air can become trapped beneath clothes, pressing up against the skin and causing irritation.
People with certain types of occupations are more at risk for developing occupational dermatitis. These include housekeepers, roofers, medical workers, hairdressers, bricklayers, janitors, and maids. Bartenders, bakers, and cooks are also at risk for getting this type of skin condition. Development of occupational dermatitis may also be determined by other factors. People of a certain age as well as women and those who are already susceptible to eczema may be more at risk.
Those who are continually exposed to irritants may develop allergic reactions to those substances. Without treatment, occupational dermatitis will continue. Over time, even the slightest bit of contact with an irritant may trigger a severe case of eczema.
Prevention may help to reduce the risk of getting occupational dermatitis. Washing hands thoroughly, wearing latex- and powder-free gloves, and protecting the skin whenever possible may work to avoid reactions. Staying away from known irritants and allergens can also help a person avoid this type of skin condition in the workplace.