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Occupational Dermatitis in Health Care Workers Evaluated for Suspected Allergic Contact Dermatitis

Kadivar, Salmon BA*; Belsito, Donald V. MD

doi: 10.1097/DER.0000000000000124

Background Contact dermatitides occur commonly among health care workers (HCWs).

Objective To contrast the atopic status and incidence, location, and final diagnosis of skin diseases afflicting HCWs versus non-HCWs (NHCWs) evaluated for suspicion of allergic contact dermatitis (ACD); and among the population diagnosed with ACD, to compare the incidence and occupational relatedness of allergens found in HCWs with the rates observed in NHCWs.

Methods Between July 1, 1994, and May 30, 2014, 2611 patients underwent patch testing by the senior author. Of these, 165 were classified as HCWs based on their primary occupation. Statistical analysis was done using a χ2 test.

Results Health care workers were more likely than NHCWs to be women and to have hand dermatitis. Women, but not men, HCWs suffered more irritant contact dermatitis. Health care workers had significantly more work-related ACD, especially to formaldehyde, quaternium-15, 2-bromo-2-nitropropane-1,3-diol, cocamide diethanolamine (DEA), thiuram mix, carba mix, thimerosal, benzalkonium chloride, glutaraldehyde, and bacitracin.

Limitations Only patients suspected of having ACD were tested. Our population was geographically limited to metropolitan Kansas City, MO and metropolitan New York, NY.

Conclusions Health care workers suffer more from occupational ACD, especially of the hands, than do NHCWs, including to allergens not present on available standard allergen series.

From the *Rush University School of Medicine, Chicago, IL; and †Department of Dermatology, Columbia University Medical Center, New York, NY.

Address reprint requests to Donald V Belsito, MD, Department of Dermatology, HIP-12 Columbia University Medical Center 161 Fort Washington Avenue New York, NY 10032. E-mail:

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

© 2015 American Contact Dermatitis Society
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