For most people, work is the #1 cause of stress in life. We’ve all had days when work made us feel physically or mentally tired, upset, or out of sorts. For all that, though, many people don’t realize the negative effects that work can have on your body’s biggest organ: Your skin.
What Can Cause Skin Irritation While at Work?
Your skin doesn’t get “stressed out,” of course, but it does serve as the first line of defense that stands between your body and the environment around you. Ideally, the skin keeps any and all kinds of physical hazards from entering the body, including bacteria, viruses, and pollutants.
Unfortunately, many workplaces harbor all kinds of things that can irritate the skin. Skin irritation is formally known as dermatitis. Some people find that, because of substances they come into contact with at work, they suffer contact dermatitis – also known as eczema. Although eczema is not dangerous in and of itself, it can lead to serious complications such as skin infection. Cases of eczema are becoming far more common throughout the United States.
Whenever you come into contact with an irritating agent directly or indirectly – such as through the air – your skin may become irritated. Some agents that can cause dermatitis include:
- Solvents used in glues and paints
- Industrial chemicals, like cleaners
- Many plants, fungi, and bacteria
- Sandpaper and other abrasive items
- Alcohols, degreasers, and coolants
- Any type of petroleum-based product
At many workplaces, some form of interaction with these or other irritants is unavoidable. If you are experiencing dermatitis regularly at work with no clear cause, however, it can suggest an emergency – such as mold or mildew – that needs to be addressed at all levels.
Dry, red, itchy skin is the hallmark of dermatitis. In moderate cases, there could be noticeable flaking, swelling, blistering, and cracking. While symptoms often subside on their own in a short time, recurring dermatitis may leave a person at risk of infection.
What Can You Do to Prevent Skin Irritation At Work?
There are many ways to reduce or avoid dermatitis in the workplace:
- Use Gloves – Gloves are the most important safety equipment when you know you’ll be coming into contact with any irritating substance. Be sure to always use the right glove for the job. If you use latex gloves frequently, be aware they can sometimes cause contact dermatitis on their own.
- Wash Hands Regularly – Lukewarm or cool water is best when washing the hands: Hot water can damage skin. Alcohol-based hand rubs can be convenient and fast-acting for those who find soaps irritating or do not always have access to soaps. Avoid using solvents or thinners, which can worsen any skin irritation.
- Moisturize – Moisture is perhaps the most vital part of the skin’s own natural defense mechanisms. All parts of the skin benefit from a good moisturizer, not just the hands and face. Thick, clear ointments are best for skin repair at night, while thinner lotions are best before and during work.
- Consider Prescription Treatments – There are many prescriptions that can defend the skin against severe symptoms such as rashes. If you experience rashes or other painful skin conditions, a doctor can help you to rule out allergy as a factor. The right medication often completely eliminates symptoms.
Anyone who works will encounter some risk factors for skin health. If you find that your skin seems to be irritated more often than not, it may point to a different issue. With advice from a qualified Florida dermatologist, you can experience long-lasting relief. To learn more, contact Hollywood Dermatology today.