Occupational dermatitis is a very common form of industrial disease with some 35,000 new cases of the condition being reported by the UK Health and Safety Executive between the years 2010 to 2012.
Occupational dermatitis is distinct from dermatitis in the fact that the condition was caused in the workplace hence the term “occupational” dermatitis. There are a wide variety of occupations that can be susceptible to contact dermatitis – either irritant or allergic and the symptoms can be painful and debilitating for the sufferer.
The hands are by far the most commonly affected part of the body (90% of occupational contact dermatitis cases in the UK workforce affect the hands) with the face the next highest affected area. This is unsurprising given that contact dermatitis is the commonest form of occupational dermatitis (77% of cases of workplace dermatitis in the UK were forms of contact dermatitis) and the hands and face are the two most often exposed parts of our bodies in the workplace.
There are typical symptoms of occupational dermatitis. These include –
- Blistered skin (small itchy red circles)
- Burning sensation in the affected area
- Cracked skin
- Dry skin
- Itching on the affected area of skin
- Redness of the affected skin
- Scaly, flaky skin
- Swollen skin
- Weeping skin
As there can be breaks in the skin in some cases of occupational dermatitis there is the possibility that an infection could occur. If the skin becomes infected you may experience other symptoms such as –
- Discharge from the skin
- Feeling of unwellness
- General dermatitis symptoms increasing
- High temperature (fever)
- Pain increasing
If you believe that you are suffering from dermatitis which is painful, persistent and recurrent it would be wise to visit your GP who will be able to diagnose the condition and also attempt to trace how the condition originated. This is important because if the dermatitis was caused by an irritant or allergen in the workplace, you would need to discuss this with your employer and seek a change to working practices to avoid ongoing exposure. Additionally if the condition is considered to be occupational dermatitis it may be possible to make a claim for personal injury compensation because occupational dermatitis is classed as an industrial disease.