Nickel Causing Workplace Skin Disease

Women shown to be especially sensitive to contact dermatitis

TUESDAY, Nov. 25, 2003 (HealthDayNews) -- Nickel exposure may be a factor in as many as 1 in 20 cases of contact dermatitis that employees acquire in the workplace, says a new British study.

Hairdressers, bar staff, cooks, nurses, sales assistants, and electronic and general assembly workers are among those affected, says the report, published in the current issue of the journal Occupational and Environmental Medicine.

Contact dermatitis occurs when the skin comes into contact with particular substances, including allergens and irritants.

The researchers analyzed more than 22,500 cases of workplace-acquired skin disease reported to two national surveillance programs. In one program, nickel was one of the suspect agents reported by doctors 12 percent of the time -- or nearly 1,200 of more than 12,500 cases of contact dermatitis.

In the second program, about 1.9 per cent of 10,000 reported cases of skin disease were believed to be attributable in part to nickel sensitivity.

The study found that women were three times more likely than men to be affected by nickel sensitivity, with the highest rate among women aged 16 to 30.

Hairdressers, cleaners and cooks were the most frequent occupations of women with contact dermatitis reported by skin doctors, the study says. Occupational health doctors most often reported nickel to be a potential suspect agent in contact dermatitis experienced by nurses, cashiers and sales assistants and assembly line workers, particularly those in electronics assembly.

More information

Here's where you can learn more about nickel allergy.

SOURCE: British Medical Journal Specialist Journals, news release, Nov. 24, 2003
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