Causes of Occupational Dermatitis

Occupational dermatitis is a common form of industrial disease. There are an estimated 84,000 people in the UK workforce that currently suffer the condition – many of which work in the food and catering industries. For details on the types of professions and industries whose workers can be susceptible to developing occupational dermatitis see our high risk professions page.

There are two forms of occupational dermatitis. Each of which are subject to different causal agents. The lists below contain substances that have been known to cause dermatitis to develop in some people. It is important to note that different circumstances such as level of exposure, genetic history, immune system, etc. can play a role in whether a person would be at risk of developing the disease

Substances that can cause irritant contact dermatitis

  • Abrasives
  • Acids and alkalis
  • Alcohols
  • Cement (wet)
  • Cleaning products
  • Degreasers
  • Detergents
  • Disinfectants
  • Dust
  • Food stuffs
  • Glues
  • Machine oil
  • Petroleum products
  • Plants (boraginaceae, mustards)
  • Powders
  • Reducing agents
  • Soaps
  • Soil
  • Solvents
  • Water (wetwork)

Substances that can cause allergic contact dermatitis

  • Acrylic in adhesives
  • Adhesives
  • Chromates
  • Chromium
  • Cobalt
  • Cosmetic products
  • Epoxy resins
  • Flour
  • Formaldehyde
  • Hair dyes
  • Latex
  • Nail varnish resins
  • Nickel
  • Perfumes
  • Plants (daffodils, sunflowers and tulips are most common)
  • Plastic resins
  • Preservatives
  • Rubber
  • Textiles
  • Topical medications
  • Wood dust