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How to Protect Yourself from Job-related Skin Problems

Skin diseases and injuries are the most common job-related medical problems. Workers of all ages and in almost all jobs can have skin problems.

You are more likely to have a skin problem if you work in certain jobs. Some of these jobs are in manufacturing, food production, construction, machine tool operation, printing, metal plating, leather processing, engine service, landscaping, farming, or forestry.

The most common job-related skin problems are skin irritation and rashes. These problems happen when skin comes into contact over and over with water, chemicals, and other substances.

Over time, contact with solvents, many soaps, and even water removes natural oils from your skin. This can cause your skin to crack and become dry or chapped.

Cutting and lubricating oils and greases can block skin pores. This can cause acne or skin irritation.

Contact with acids, alkalis, or heavy metals can cause painful burns. Contact with even small amounts of some substances can cause skin allergies. Common causes of work-related skin allergies include acrylate glues (super glues), epoxy resins, textile dyes or resins, and latex.

A list of chemicals that can cause skin allergies is available on the Internet at: http://www.haz-map.com/allergic.htm.

People who work outside and have lots of sun exposure are at risk for skin cancer. This cancer may not show up for many years.

How can you protect your skin while working? Your workplace should be kept clean. Proper waste containers should be in place. All chemicals should be safely stored and correctly labeled. If strong acids or dangerous chemicals are used in your workplace, eye baths and safety showers should be available.

Here are some things you can do:

  • Wear gloves, aprons, and other protective clothing to keep your skin from coming in contact with oils, greases, and chemicals.
  • Wear clean clothes to work, and take off oil-soaked or chemical-soaked work clothes right after work.
  • Do not clean your hands or other skin areas with gasoline, kerosene, mineral spirits, or turpentine.
  • Protect your skin with petroleum jelly, a lotion, or a cream after you wash your hands.
  • Know what to do if your skin comes in contact with a dangerous material--how to get the material off your skin and how to get medical help. Do not eat, drink, or smoke in your work area. Doing so can bring chemicals in close contact with your skin.
  • Put sunscreen on your skin several times a day if you work 
    outdoors. In addition, wear sunglasses, a wide-brimmed hat, and a shirt or jacket with long sleeves.

A basic skin care routine for the face is a lifelong undertaking that encompasses the time we spend at home and at work. Caring for the skin on your face is actually quite simple, dermatologists recommend regular skin cleansing and the use of a skin moisturizer, preferably before retiring to bed at night.

Use Nutraderm® lotion on your skin after taking a bath or washing your hands. This one-of-a-kind skin moisturizer that's non-greasy, lanolin-free (for sensitive skin) and hypoallergenic. Best for the hands, face and body, Nutraderm® lotion is specially formulated to treat dry skin.

It can serve as your yearlong defense against dry skin.

Taking care of one’s skin while in the workplace is a major responsibility, but if you heed the advice of the experts to take certain precautions, chances are your skin will always be in the pink of health.

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