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Australas J Dermatol. 2016 May;57(2):108-14. doi: 10.1111/ajd.12375. Epub 2015 Jul 16.

Occupational skin disease in Victoria, Australia.

Author information

Occupational Dermatology Research and Education Centre, Skin and Cancer Foundation Inc., Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.
Contact Dermatitis Investigation Unit, The Dermatology Centre, Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust, Manchester, UK.
Centre for Molecular, Environmental, Genetic and Analytic Epidemiology, School of Population Health, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.
Department of Medicine, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.



To describe the characteristics of patients with occupational skin disease (OSD) in a tertiary referral clinic in Victoria, Australia.


A retrospective review was conducted of records from patients seen at the Occupational Dermatology Clinic in Melbourne, Australia between 1 January 1993 and 31 December 2010.


Of the 2894 people assessed in the clinic during the 18-year period, 44% were women and 56% were men. In all, 2177 (75%) were diagnosed with occupational skin disease (OSD). Of the patients with a work-related skin condition, 45% (n = 979) were considered to be atopic. The most common diagnosis in those with OSD was irritant contact dermatitis (ICD) (44%), followed by allergic contact dermatitis (33%) and endogenous eczema (11%). Women were significantly more likely to have soaps and detergents (P < 0.001) and water/wet work (P < 0.001) as causes of their ICD than men. Men were significantly more likely to have oils and coolants (P < 0.001) and solvent exposures (P < 0.001) as causes of their ICD. Occupational groups with the highest incidence of OSD were the hair and beauty professions (70 per 100 000), followed by machine and plant operators (38 per 100 000) and health-care workers (21 per 100 000).


We confirm the importance of occupational contact dermatitis as the most common cause of OSD, with ICD being the most common diagnosis. There are differences in the causes of ICD between our group of male and female workers. For the first time in Australia, rates of OSD in certain industries have been calculated.


allergic; contact dermatitis; irritant; occupational; patch testing

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