Caused by contact with harmful substances at work, industrial dermatitis is a non-infectious skin condition that comes in two forms.
Types of industrial dermatitis
The two forms of industrial or occupational dermatitis are allergic contact dermatitis and irritant contact dermatitis.
Allergic contact dermatitis
This type of occupational dermatitis develops when you become sensitised to a substance (known as an allergen). Sensitisation typically takes months, even years to occur, but may (depending on the substance and amount of exposure) occur within days.
Once sensitised, you develop an allergy to the substance in question and will react to it whenever you come into contact with it, regardless of how minimal exposure may be.
Symptoms of allergic contact dermatitis
While reactions may vary in severity from one person to the next, symptoms typically include one or more of the following:
- Reddening of skin; dry, scaly patches and/or hives
- Oozing blisters, burning and/or itching
- Darkened and/or cracked skin
- Swelling in the eyes
Allergic reactions may spread beyond the initial contact area and, in severe cases, breathing difficulties may also be experienced.
Irritant contact dermatitis
This form of industrial dermatitis occurs when your skin is exposed:
- Repeatedly to mild irritants like solvents or detergents over long periods of time or
- To strong irritants (like cleaning compounds, strong soaps or solvents; alkalis and acids) that may cause immediate damage to your skin
Effects are typically confined to the section of your skin that came into contact with the substance in question.
Symptoms of irritant contact dermatitis
Common symptoms of irritant contact dermatitis include mild swelling and a tight, stiff feeling in the skin.
Blisters and/or dry, cracking skin may also occur.
Preventing occupational dermatitis
Health and safety laws require your employer to protect you against accidents at work and industrial diseases. This includes minimising the risk of you or other employees developing allergic or irritant contact dermatitis. If you developed industrial dermatitis because your employer did not take the necessary steps to protect you, you may qualify for a work injury claim.
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Date Published: March 5, 2017
Author: Accident Advice