Recent Increase In Dermatitis For Health and Social Care Workers
Dermatitis and general skin conditions have long been a common complaint for health care workers, with up to 1000 nurses and other health and social care professional estimated to develop contact-dermatitis each year. A 2020 paper from the HSE states that nurses have a 5 times higher rate of suffering with contact dermatitis than other occupational groups. Contact Dermatitis is a skin complaint that is caused by contact with a particular substance or irritant.
The British Medical Journal has recently reported an increase in skin-trauma in healthcare workers. This is unsurprising given the current pandemic and subsequent spotlight on PPE and the need for frequent hand-washing together with the immense pressure on all healthcare workers throughout the NHS and private sectors, with stress being a known trigger for many skin conditions.
For health and social care workers the skin complaint is often caused or made worse through the use of gloves, hand gels and/or regular hand washing. The use of gloves can irritate the skin due to the gloves occlusive nature and whilst hand gel is used everyday by many people as a result of COVID precautions, healthcare workers are regularly using such gels 50-80 times each shift. It is also thought that washing hands 20-40 times each day , which is common practice for health and social care workers, is likely to lead to dermatitis.
Read more about occupational dermatitis claims
Historically skin conditions in health care workers have predominately been to the hands, however there is an increasing risk of irritation to the face caused by the recent mandatory use of face coverings.
Skin conditions in health and social care workers are widely documented and it is a commonly accepted high risk industry for skin complaints. Employers should have a number of policies and procedures in place in order to maintain the safety of employees. This should include training regarding the use of gloves and hand washing procedures as well as conducting regular skin assessments. All employees who have a pre-existing or develop a latex allergy should also be offered alternative gloves. However, we have represented a number of clients where we have felt that these policies and procedures were either not in place or inadequate and the employees therefore did not receive the level of care owed to them.
Read about our recent case – ‘Nurse Wins Compensation for Contact Dermatitis‘
If you feel that you have developed any skin complaints or have had pre-existing skin condition become worse during your employment you can get in touch with a member of our team who may be able to help.Get in touch
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Annabel ChadwickAssociate Solicitor/Team Manager view profile