Skin diseases and injuries are common job-related medical problems. Workers of all ages and in almost all jobs can have skin problems that are related to their occupation.
Skin problems are more common in certain jobs, such as jobs in manufacturing, food production, construction, machine tool operation, printing, metal plating, leather processing, engine service, landscaping, farming or forestry.
If you use chemicals or other substances in your work, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires your workplace to provide a Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) for each chemical. The MSDS will describe any known risk for skin irritation, skin allergy or skin cancer. Be sure to read each MSDS your company provides.
Irritation and Rashes. The most common job-related skin problems are skin irritation and rashes. These problems happen when skin comes into frequent contact with water, chemicals and other substances.
Over time, contact with solvents, many soaps, and even water removes natural oils from your skin. This can cause your skin to crack and become dry or chapped.
Cutting and lubricating oils and greases can block skin pores. This can cause acne or skin irritation.
Contact with acids, alkalis or heavy metals can cause painful burns.
Skin Allergies. Contact with even small amounts of some substances can cause skin allergies. Common causes of work-related skin allergies include acrylate glues (super glues), epoxies, textile dyes or resins, and latex.
A list of chemicals that can cause skin allergies is available at: http://www.haz-map.com/allergic.htm.
Skin Cancer. People who work outside and have lots of sun exposure are at risk for skin cancer. This cancer may not show up for many years.
The following can help keep your workplace safe if you work with chemicals or other hazardous substances:
Here are some things you can do:
Written by familydoctor.org editorial staff