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Fire-Retardant Clothing–Related Dermatitis

McConnell, Daniela C.; Harris, Thomas J. MD; Tucker, Stephen B. MD

doi: 10.1097/DER.0b013e31823d18ef

Background Several laborers in a refinery unit undergoing a work over noted skin eruptions. Signs and symptoms included erythema, pruritus, scaling, and perifollicular inflammation on skin contacted by fire-retardant clothing (FRC).

Objective The purposes of this report were to show a correlation between this rash outbreak and the use of FRC, to report the investigative results as to what aspect of the FRC most likely caused the dermatitis, and to present how this outbreak was ended.

Methods Employees received questionnaires, were examined, and received patch testing, and pH testing of FRC was performed to evaluate the causative factors.

Results More than 100 workers reported a rash, and approximately a third of these individuals exhibited a unique rash. There was a trend toward Hispanic and white workers being more affected than black workers. The onset of the rash peaked from June to August. This FRC-related rash resolved with the use of manufacturer-recommended laundering procedures.

Conclusions The FRC-associated eruption was most likely a form of irritant contact dermatitis due to inadequate laundering procedures. The most effective preventative measure other than proper laundering was the use of underclothing to prevent contact of FRC with sweat-moistened skin.

From the Department of Dermatology, University of Texas, Medical School, Houston, TX.

Address reprint requests to Stephen B. Tucker, MD, Department of Dermatology, The University of Texas, Medical School at Houston, 6655 Travis St, Suite 980, Houston, TX 77030. E-mail:

The authors have no funding or conflicts of interest to declare.

©2012American Contact Dermatitis Society, All Right Reserved
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