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Work Related Skin Disease or Occupational Skin Disease

What is Work Related Skin Disease or Occupational Skin Disease?

The occurrence of work related skin diseases or occupational skin disease is quite common and tends to happen is most places of work, especially at places where people are in direct contact with chemicals or other substances with their hands which may result in certain skin conditions leading to loss of workdays and in some cases rendering the employee incapable of working which is then a headache for the employer as then the employer has to hire and train another person for the job apart from the compensation that he has to give the employee who has been diagnosed with a work related skin disease or occupational skin disease.

As stated, work related skin disease or occupational skin disease is caused when the skin comes in direct contact with certain chemicals, or the hands being wet for prolonged periods of time. The most common work related skin disease is known as dermatitis or eczema, although other conditions like urticaria is also known to be caused due to occupational hazards. A work related skin disease is totally preventable if the employer takes adequate measures to protect the employee from coming in direct contact with chemicals or other potential triggers which may expose a person to skin diseases.

It is estimated that around 50% of worker’s compensation cases filed in United States are those for work related skin conditions or occupational skin disease. Work related skin disease also constitutes to about 30% of missed workdays in the United States. Some of the industries where an individual may be exposed to skin conditions are manufacturing industry, food industry, construction, printing industry, metal plating industry.

What is Work Related Skin Disease or Occupational Skin Disease?

What are the Factors Taken into Account When Diagnosing Work Related Skin Disease or Occupational Skin Disease?

In order to pinpoint a skin condition to be work-related or occupation related, detailed screening needs to be performed apart from taking a history of the patient ascertaining the onset of symptoms and when the patient actually started working. The physician should also determine the general work conditions of the patient and what was the work the patient actually had been doing before the onset of symptoms. The physician should also ascertain whether the patient has been exposed to ascertain harmful chemicals or other agents which may have caused the patient the skin condition. The physician should also determine if the patient has been near people who already have been having a skin condition. The physician should also determine if the employee has any prevention procedures in place in order to reduce the exposure of the patient to hazardous chemicals.

In some cases, the patient may be having a preexisting skin condition which may have been aggravated by the occupational exposure. This also needs to be investigated by the physician. The physician should also determine the use of chemicals that the patient uses at home like soaps, detergents, shampoos, paints and stuff of that sort which may have also contributed to the condition.

The physician should also rule out other medical conditions which are known to cause skin conditions like hives, asthma, hay fever, allergies, fungal infections, diabetes, or other vascular diseases. Once these conditions have been ruled out then the patient can be termed as having a work related skin disease.

What are the Modes of Treatment for Work Related Skin Disease or Occupational Skin Disease?

Contact Dermatitis which is the most common type of work related skin disease or occupational skin disease has been classified into two types which are acute and chronic. The treatment methodology for the two types is slightly different from one another. In acute dermatitis the patient has a blistery skin whereas in chronic dermatitis the patient will have a dry, cracked, and thickened skin. Relief can be provided through medications but to completely eradicate the condition the agent causing the condition needs to be identified and the patient should be protected from its exposure.

Treatment for Acute Dermatitis: For treatment of Acute Dermatitis, the patient can use dressings which are made wet by water and applied to the affected area about four times a day. Applications of topical steroids have also shown to be effective in treating acute dermatitis but caution needs to be maintained in giving steroids to people who have uncontrolled hypertension, diabetes, mellitus, or psychotic disorders. Antihistamines are also helpful in relieving acute dermatitis. Benadryl is the most common antihistamine used for treating acute dermatitis along with Atarax. Since these medications have sedation as a side effect profile hence the patients taking them are advised not to drive or operate heavy machinery for about six to eight hours after taking the medication.

Treatment for Chronic Dermatitis: The treatments for treating chronic dermatitis include applying topical agents like Vaseline to the affected area. This is most effective after washing the skin with water. Topical steroids are also an effective way of treating chronic dermatitis. The steroids need to be applied to the affected area four to six times a day.

Why is it Important to Contact A Lawyer to Get Claim for Work Related Skin Disease or Occupational Skin Disease?

If an individual suspects that he or she has a work related skin disease or occupational skin disease then he or she needs to first inform the supervisor about the condition. The supervisor will then direct the patient to a physician who will then check the patient and rule out any preexisting conditions which may have aggravated the condition, rule out any other medical conditions like diabetes or vascular conditions which may affect the skin adversely. Once all conditions have been ruled out, the patient needs to contact a worker compensation lawyer who will put forth the findings of the screening and the notes provided by the treating physician in the best possible way to grant the patient a worker compensation claim due to work related skin disease or occupational skin disease.

How to Prevent Work Related Skin Diseases or Occupational Skin Diseases?

Work Related Skin Diseases or occupational skin disease are preventable provided the employee and the employer both take equal responsibility in maintaining a clean environment in the work place. Protective gears and gloves should be provided to the employees when working with harmful chemicals so that the employee is not ion direct contact with the chemicals. If the employee needs to be in the water for prolonged periods of time then work boots and gloves need to be provided so that the skin is not exposed to water for long periods of time.


  1. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH): “Occupational Skin Diseases and Disorders” by NIOSH Link: https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/skin/default.html

  2. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA): “Skin Exposures and Effects” by OSHA Link: https://www.osha.gov/skin-exposures/effects

  3. American Academy of Dermatology (AAD): “Occupational Skin Diseases” by AAD Link: https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/a-z/occupational-skin-diseases

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Team PainAssist
Team PainAssist
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Team PainAssist, Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:July 19, 2023

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