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Irritant-Related Hand Eczema Causes Sick Leave, Job Loss

Atopic dermatitis, age may be useful predictors of condition

MONDAY, March 20 (HealthDay News) -- Occupational hand eczema (OHE), usually caused by the use of soaps or other irritants, can lead to a significant number of sick days or unemployment for affected patients, according to a Danish cohort study published in the March 20 issue of the Archives of Dermatology.

Rikke Skoet Cvetkovski, M.D., Ph.D., of the University of Copenhagen in Hellerup, Denmark, and colleagues conducted a cohort study with a one-year follow-up using subjects enrolled in the Danish National Board of Industrial Injuries Registry. All patients with OHE first reported between October 2001 and November 2002 were sent questionnaires regarding symptom severity, time off or loss of a job, depression and quality of life.

During the one-year follow-up, 25 percent of patients reported having persistent and aggravated OHE, 41 percent had improvement, and 34 percent had no change in mild to moderate disease. The presence of atopic dermatitis, older age, and low socioeconomic status corresponded with more severe OHE and predicted prolonged sick leave and unemployment in some. Those trades most effected were butchers, kitchen workers and hairdressers.

"We identified atopic dermatitis as a prognostic risk factor for either persistently severe or aggravated disease, which supports earlier findings," the authors write. "Predictive factors could be used by clinicians to guide treatment and to select early risk management strategies."

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