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Recent advances in occupational dermatitis

Holness, Dorothy Linn

Current Opinion in Allergy and Clinical Immunology: April 2013 - Volume 13 - Issue 2 - p 145–150
doi: 10.1097/ACI.0b013e32835e12cf
OCCUPATIONAL DISEASE: Edited by Susan M. Tarlo and Piero Maestrelli

Purpose of review This review examined recent advances in occupational contact dermatitis (OCD).

Recent findings Both genetic and environmental factors contribute to OCD. There is continuing growth in our understanding of the genetic factors, particularly related to filaggrin mutations. In spite of increased understanding of irritant exposures, the prevalence of hand eczema in workers with wet work exposures remains high at approximately 20%. Patch test database surveillance systems have documented reductions in the occurrence of sensitivity to some allergens such as chromium wherein regulatory efforts have reduced workplace exposures. These surveillance data have also documented increases in sensitivity to several allergens in particular trades, serving as an effective system to identify new exposure situations or new allergens. The impact of OCD on quality of life and mental health conditions, employment and financial aspects is increasingly documented. Progress in understanding the underreporting of OCD and the underlying reasons continues. Several groups have developed robust multidisciplinary secondary and tertiary prevention programmes and the evaluations demonstrate promise. Although several recent systematic reviews have documented the evidence for various prevention strategies, there is increasing understanding of the gaps in prevention practices in actual workplaces.

Summary Understanding of the underlying genetic and environmental agents contributing to OCD is increasing. In spite of progress with reducing exposure to some allergens, the prevalence of OCD continues to be high, particularly related to wet work. New prevention programmes are being developed and evaluated and hold promise for improved outcomes.

aDalla Lana School of Public Health and Department of Medicine, University of Toronto

bDepartment of Occupational and Environmental Health, St Michael's Hospital, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Correspondence to Dorothy Linn Holness, MD, MHSc, FRCPC, FFOM(Hon), Department of Occupational and Environmental Health, St Michael's Hospital, 30 Bond Street, Toronto, ON M5B 1W8, Canada. Tel: +1 416 864 5074; fax: +1 416 974 5421; e-mail:

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