Occupational dermatitis is a generic term for a number of diseases of the skin caused by contact in the work environment with a variety of physical, chemical and biological agents. It is also known as 'contact dermatitis' and 'exogenous dermatitis'.
There are two main types of occupational dermatitis, namely:
'Irritant contact dermatitis' (a non-immunological inflammation of the skin)
'Allergic contact dermatitis' (an immune reaction to chemicals)
Symptoms attributable to dermatitis include redness, blistering, itching, rashes and thickening/cracking of the skin. The condition typically affects the hands, forearms and face. In some chronic cases the symptoms may become apparent in other areas of the body.
Occupational dermatitis is known to occur in a variety of industries. They include the construction/engineering industry, the printing industry and the chemical industry. Persons involved in other occupations are also susceptible. Those occupations include hair/beauty treatment, catering/food processing, cleaning and agriculture.
There are a wide range of agents known to cause dermatitis. They include many items usually used in the industries and occupations mentioned above (such as cement/plaster, printing inks/solvents/cleaners, adhesives, latex and dyes/perming solutions/shampoos).
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