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Dermatitis. 2015 Jul-Aug;26(4):177-83. doi: 10.1097/DER.0000000000000124.

Occupational dermatitis in health care workers evaluated for suspected allergic contact dermatitis.

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From the *Rush University School of Medicine, Chicago, IL; and †Department of Dermatology, Columbia University Medical Center, New York, NY.



Contact dermatitides occur commonly among health care workers (HCWs).


To contrast the atopic status and incidence, location, and final diagnosis of skin diseases afflicting HCWs versus non-HCWs (NHCWs) evaluated for suspicion of allergic contact dermatitis (ACD); and among the population diagnosed with ACD, to compare the incidence and occupational relatedness of allergens found in HCWs with the rates observed in NHCWs.


Between July 1, 1994, and May 30, 2014, 2611 patients underwent patch testing by the senior author. Of these, 165 were classified as HCWs based on their primary occupation. Statistical analysis was done using a χ test.


Health care workers were more likely than NHCWs to be women and to have hand dermatitis. Women, but not men, HCWs suffered more irritant contact dermatitis. Health care workers had significantly more work-related ACD, especially to formaldehyde, quaternium-15, 2-bromo-2-nitropropane-1,3-diol, cocamide diethanolamine (DEA), thiuram mix, carba mix, thimerosal, benzalkonium chloride, glutaraldehyde, and bacitracin.


Only patients suspected of having ACD were tested. Our population was geographically limited to metropolitan Kansas City, MO and metropolitan New York, NY.


Health care workers suffer more from occupational ACD, especially of the hands, than do NHCWs, including to allergens not present on available standard allergen series.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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