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New Study Finds Frequent Hand Washing Puts Health Care Workers at Increased Risk for Irritant Contact Dermatitis
Date:2/1/2008

SAN ANTONIO, Feb. 1 /PRNewswire/ -- For the millions of health care workers in the United States, repeated hand washing may not seem like an occupational hazard at first glance. In fact, good hand hygiene is essential in health care workers to stop the spread of potentially serious infections, such as staphylococcus and clostridium. However, new research examining the risk factors for irritant contact dermatitis -- a common skin condition marked by scaling, redness, itching and burning due to a chemical substance on the skin -- among health care workers finds that those who washed their hands more than 10 times per day were more likely to develop the condition than those who washed their hands less frequently.

Speaking today at the 66th Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Dermatology, dermatologist Susan T. Nedorost, MD, FAAD, associate professor of dermatology at University Hospitals Case Medical Center in Cleveland, Ohio, presented findings that demonstrated a positive link between frequent hand washing and irritant contact dermatitis, or hand dermatitis, among health care workers.

"We demonstrated that some people are predisposed to skin reactions to irritant detergents, and those who do 'wet' work in low humidity conditions where frequent hand washing is an essential part of the job are very susceptible to hand dermatitis," said Dr. Nedorost. "Our findings confirm that health care workers who wash their hands repeatedly are at an increased risk of developing hand dermatitis, which can take months to heal. This knowledge can help workers at risk for the condition to practice good hand care and follow preventative tips to decrease their risk factors on the job." Conducted in collaboration with the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), the study included a total of 100 health care workers in Cleveland, Ohio, who washed their hands at least eight times daily. Study participants were asked to complete a questionnaire
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SOURCE American Academy of Dermatology
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