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Contact Dermatitis. 2010 Dec;63(6):320-32. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0536.2010.01778.x. Epub 2010 Aug 20.

Influence of tumour necrosis factor-α polymorphism-308 and atopy on irritant contact dermatitis in healthcare workers.

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  • 1Division of Pharmaceutical Sciences, College of Pharmacy, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH, USA.



Chronic irritant hand dermatitis is an issue for healthcare workers and may negatively impact infection control.


We examined the effects of a G to A transition at position -308 on the tumour necrosis factor-α (TNF-α) gene on chronically damaged skin of healthcare workers during exposure and recovery from repetitive hand hygiene, after intensive treatment, and on the irritant response in normal skin.


In 68 healthcare workers with irritant hand dermatitis, we genotyped TNF-α-308 and measured the epidermal response via quantitative digital imaging, erythema, dryness, and barrier integrity.


Excess hand erythema decreased with hand hygiene exposure and increased during time off for AA/GA genotypes, but had opposite effects for GG. AA/GA had smaller reductions in dryness with lotion treatment and larger reductions in excess erythema than GG. The atopic diathesis and heightened neurosensory irritation resulting from water and lactic acid significantly influenced the responses. Repeated exposure to water and sodium lauryl sulfate (0.05, 0.1%) produced higher erythema in normal skin for AA/GA than for GG.


This study provides evidence that the TNF-α polymorphism at -308 and an atopic history impact the severity of irritation and recovery from exposure and response to treatment for common hand skin products in both chronic irritant hand dermatitis and normal skin.

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