Causes of irritant contact dermatitis after occupational skin exposure: a systematic review

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  • Gitte Højbjerg Jacobsen, University of Southern Denmark
  • ,
  • Kurt Rasmussen
  • ,
  • Anne Bregnhøj
  • Marléne Isaksson, Lund University, Sweden
  • Thomas Diepgen, University Hospital Heidelberg, Germany
  • Ole Carstensen

Purpose: Irritant contact dermatitis (ICD) is a major cause of occupational disease. The aim was to review the relation between exposure to occupational irritants and ICD and the prognosis of ICD. Methods: Through a systematic search, 1516 titles were identified, and 48 studies were included in the systematic review. Results: We found that the evidence for an association between ICD and occupational irritants was strong for wet work, moderate for detergents and non-alcoholic disinfectants, and strong for a combination. The highest quality studies provided limited evidence for an association with use of occlusive gloves without other exposures and moderate evidence with simultaneous exposure to other wet work irritants. The evidence for an association between minor ICD and exposure to metalworking fluids was moderate. Regarding mechanical exposures, the literature was scarce and the evidence limited. We found that the prognosis for complete healing of ICD is poor, but improves after decrease of exposure through change of occupation or work tasks. There was no substantial evidence for an influence of gender, age, or household exposures. Inclusion of atopic dermatitis in the analysis did not alter the risk of ICD. Studies were at risk of bias, mainly due to selection and misclassification of exposure and outcome. This may have attenuated the results. Conclusion: This review reports strong evidence for an association between ICD and a combination of exposure to wet work and non-alcoholic disinfectants, moderate for metalworking fluids, limited for mechanical and glove exposure, and a strong evidence for a poor prognosis of ICD.

Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Archives of Occupational and Environmental Health
Pages (from-to)35-65
Number of pages31
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2022

    Research areas

  • Hand eczema, Irritant contact dermatitis, Occupational contact dermatitis, Prognosis, Skin exposure

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