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Wednesday, December 19, 2018
CEBU

Self-protection against serious skin diseases

MOST skin diseases are occupational in nature because people today tend to acquire them at work. Of these occupational skin diseases, contact dermatitis (skin inflammation) is the most common. Among several cases of contact dermatitis, the hands are most commonly involved.

Except in accidents when corrosive agents fall on a worker or are accidentally touched, most contact dermatitis are irritant in nature. Personnel handling wet works, such as cleaning, are exposed on a regular basis with strong detergents and solvents. These compounds, including heavy metals, have the acidity or alkalinity strength that can irritate, or even corrode, the skin.

Thus, occupational health and safety organizations around the world are unanimous in recommending adequate hand protection to avoid occupational irritant contact dermatitis. The costs of inadequate self-protection for workers are high: medical expenses, possible loss of work and a low or reduced quality of life.

Healthdata.org identified the Philippines as having the highest number (963.6 per 100,000 population) of skin diseases in 2016. The comparison countries are Algeria, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Guyana, Indonesia, Paraguay, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and Vietnam. This data, however, lumped together all skin diseases, including occupational skin diseases.

Other skin diseases classified as occupational include allergic contact dermatitis (ACD), oil acne and folliculitis, and skin neoplasm. Materials that cause ACD include poisonous plants (poison oak, poison ivy etc.), acrylic paints, epoxy resins, minerals, chromates and nickel. Oil-associated acne and folliculitis results from regular exposure to oil-based products, such as lubricants and solvents. These lesions appear in areas that are regularly exposed to oil-soaked clothing.

Occupational skin cancer occurs with regular exposure to such materials as arsenics, inorganic metals and polycyclic hydrocarbons as well ionizing radiation (ultraviolet light). It is difficult for workers to protect from this form of cancer because symptoms tend to appear only after 20 to 30 years of adequate exposure.

While effective hand washing is important, contact protection is more crucial, particularly while at work. Chemical resistant gloves include those using such materials as latex, neoprene, nitrile and PVC (polyvinyl chloride).


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