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08-11-2011 | Psychology | Article

Work-associated hand dermatitis exacerbated by smoking


Free abstract

MedWire News: Some symptoms of occupational hand dermatitis are worse in smokers than nonsmokers, say researchers.

Smoking is known to exacerbate various inflammatory skin disorders, but its influence on work-associated hand dermatitis is unclear.

To investigate further, Birgitta Kütting (Friedrich-Alexander University of Erlangen-Nuremberg, Germany) and colleagues interviewed and examined the hands of 1355 German metal workers, aged 17-64 years, 96.7% of whom were men. Of these, 1020 men agreed to be followed-up at 1 year.

In comparison to the general adult German population, the percentage of smokers at baseline in the cohort was high at 41.7%.

Significantly more smokers reported suffering from dyshidrotic vesicles than nonsmokers, at 25.5% versus 19.3%. Smokers also had a significantly higher erythema score value than nonsmokers, at 6.16/5.00 versus 5.33/4.00.

Total skin score, encompassing all parameters was not significantly different between the two groups, however, at 17.80/16.00 versus 17.03/15.00.

In addition, no significant differences between smokers and nonsmokers were observed for prevalence of atopic dermatitis, prior or current hand eczema and associated disability, topical application of steroids on the hands, or dermatologic consultations.

"Our results provide a further strategic opportunity to motivate smoking cessation at the workplace and reduce smoking-related morbidity and even mortality," write the authors in the journal Dermatology.

"This might provide the occupational physician with yet another good reason to encourage smoking cessation," they suggest. "On the other hand, it indicates that smoking behaviour might also have a relevant impact in the field of occupational dermatology."

By Helen Albert

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