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Arch Dermatol. 1998 Oct;134(10):1231-6.

Nickel as an occupational allergen. A survey of 368 nickel-sensitive subjects.

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Department of Dermatology, Royal Hallamshire Hospital, Sheffield, England.



To define the role of nickel as an occupational allergen.


Survey using path-test results.


Contact dermatitis clinic in the university hospital of a large industrial British city.


Three hundred sixty-eight nickel-allergic patients seen during a 5-year period were assessed for the relevance of nickel contact in their workplace. Patients were divided into possible occupational nickel allergy and nonoccupational nickel allergy groups.


Nickel was considered an occupational allergen or possible occupational allergen in 84 (22.8%) of 368 patients shown to be nickel sensitive on patch testing. The main workers in whom nickel was a common allergen were hairdressers, retail clerks, caterers, domestic cleaners, and metalworkers. Those for whom occupational exposure was possible had a significantly higher prevalence of hand dermatitis compared with the nonoccupational nickel allergy group. Nickel allergy seemed to function as a secondary occupational influence, often in conjunction with other factors, such as irritants.


Although the overall importance of nickel as an occupational allergen cannot be easily assessed, there is evidence of its importance in some occupations, especially those involving wet work. The possibility that nickel is acting as an occupational allergen needs to be assessed on an individual basis, taking into account personal circumstances and environment, but particularly should be considered in patients with hand dermatitis.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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