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Contact Dermatitis

November Safety Tip

Contact Dermatitis

Dermatitis is a painful skin condition which can be prevented. It is caused by a reaction to a substance on your skin. The symptoms include red, swollen and tender skin, hot and itchy patches or in severe cases, blisters. Exposure over a long period of time can cause thickening of the skin.

Contact dermatitis is caused by direct contact with the substances. There are two different kinds of contact dermatitis. One is an irritant dermatitis – a simple case of irritation caused by contact with the substance. The other type is allergic dermatitis, when repeated exposures to the substance cause the body to develop an allergic reaction. This reaction can then be triggered by even very small quantities of the substance.

Acids, alkalis, mineral oils, solvents, bleaches, glues, pollen, wood dusts, nickel, some types of vegetables and fruits and even antibiotics are just a few examples of the substances which can cause dermatitis in some people.

Heat, friction and dirt can also cause and aggravate dermatitis. Sweating and repetitive friction on your skin, combined with dirt and bacteria, can be a sure-fire recipe for dermatitis.

Here are some suggestions on how to prevent it:

  • Follow safe procedures when dealing with potential irritants.
  • Always read the manufacturer’s instructions for using the product.
  • Refer to the SDS (Safety Data Sheet) for information on safe handling and PPE required.
  • Avoid spills and splashes and clean up messes promptly.
  • Wear proper protection for the task. Use the correct gloves or other PPE for the job.
  • Stay clean by using soap and washing your hands and arms. Always rinse your hands and other exposed areas thoroughly. Dry your skin completely with clean paper towels.
  • Use a good hand cream to replace the oils in your skin after washing.
  • Keep your body free of irritants by changing into clean clothes at the end of your work day. Wash contaminated clothing frequently and separately from your other clothing.
  • Never keep an oily rag tucked in your pocket. It can lead to dermatitis under your clothing.
  • Report early signs of skin irritation.
  • Have minor cuts and scrapes treated promptly, because irritating substances can enter the skin through these routes.
  • Employees should report any swelling, redness, or unusual symptoms to their supervisor.