30 November 2015

How To Avoid Hand Irritant Dermatitis

Itchy, sore and inflamed skin causes discomfort for many. But when this irritation is on your hands and being caused by what you are touching as part of your daily routine, whether at work or at home, life can become unbearable.

Millions of people are suffering from such a condition, called contact dermatitis. According to the National Eczema Society, contact dermatitis affects 9% of the UK population and is the most common type of work related skin disease.

Working with irritants is the number one cause of contact dermatitis, making up around eight out of 10 cases. Indeed, some irritant substances can cause skin complaints in almost everyone if they are strong enough or being used on a regular basis.

Such irritants include: detergents, solvents; acids; alkalis; powders; dust; soil; and even certain plants. This wide-ranging, and by no means exclusive, list implies that those who work with their hands outside an office environment are most at risk from irritant contact dermatitis.

Aside from inflammation and itching, the symptoms of irritant contact dermatitis include burning, stinging and sometimes blistering of the skin, which can occur up to 48 hours after first touching an irritant.

In the case of contact dermatitis, prevention is much more effective than a cure, as skin already affected by an irritant can become damaged, making it susceptible to further irritation in the future.

Guidance from the Health and Safety Executive states that if workers are unable to avoid contact with irritants, then protecting the skin is a priority. Its advice for protecting hands from irritants includes:

  • ensuring workers know how to look after their skin
  • washing any contamination from skin promptly
  • using moisturising creams
  • providing appropriate protective gloves, made of suitable material that are the right size and right for the task to be done
  • using and storing gloves correctly
  • replacing gloves when necessary

The last three points are important to note, as while providing gloves might seem like a great way to prevent dermatitis, if the gloves are not suitable for both the worker and the job they are required to do, it can cause more harm than good. Unsuitable gloves can give a false sense of security, leading a worker to think they are protected, when in fact they are not. Therefore it is important to ensure you have the right glove for the job, taking into consideration the types of substances your workers might be handling.

For example, those working with materials that might be wet or oily could require a water resistant, yet dexterous and tactile glove as offered by our TraffiGlove Nitrile coated range. While those definitely working in wet conditions are likely to need a fully water resistant glove with a TraffiGlove Cohesion™ XP coating.

Each job and each worker is different. It is vital for their health and safety to provide gloves that have the right coating, size, length and durability, otherwise irritant contact dermatitis can get a grip on workers’ hands.

All TraffiGloves are designed to avoid itchy, sore and inflamed skin. Contact us here or call on +44 (0) 1344 207090 for more information.

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