Study: Frequent hand washers at risk of dermatitis

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Healthcare workers who frequently wash their hands with soap and water may be at a higher risk of developing contact dermatitis, researchers at University Hospitals Case Medical Center in Cleveland say.

The study found that, of 111 healthcare workers who washed their hands at least 8 times a day, 58% developed hand dermatitis to soap. Sensitivity to other chemicals and substances, such as cobalt, nickel, and gold, was higher as well. Dermatitis, also known as eczema, is an inflammation of the upper layers of the skin.

Some ways to minimize contact dermatitis, according to Susan Nederost, MD, associate professor of dermatology at University Hospitals Case Medical Center in Cleveland: avoid hand washing with soap, use alcohol-based hand sanitizers more often and use cream-based lotions. Also, using cotton gloves under rubber occlusive gloves may be helpful for certain tasks. The study was presented at the 66th annual meeting of the American Academy of Dermatology on Feb 1.