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Occupational hand eczema among nursing staffs in Korea: Self-reported hand eczema and contact sensitization of hospital nursing staffs


Correspondence: Hae Y. Choi, M.D., Department of Dermatology, Ewha Womans University Mokdong Hospital, 911-1 Mok-dong, Yangcheon-gu, Seoul 158-710, Korea. Email:


Occupational hand eczema is frequent in hospital workers, especially in nurses. A comprehensive understanding regarding hand eczema is essential for establishing proper prevention and treatment strategies. The purpose of this study was to identify the risk factors for hand eczema in hospital nursing staffs. A self-administered questionnaire study was performed on hospital nursing staffs at a single general hospital in Korea. In addition, 70 patients with hand eczema underwent patch testing. Five hundred and twenty-five of 700 invited nurses completed the study (response rate, 75.0%). The overall frequency of symptom-based hand eczema was 75.6%, and self-reported hand eczema was 31.0%. Risk factors for hand eczema were young age, history of atopic dermatitis, frequent hand washing (>20 times/day) and long duration of glove wearing (>5 min). Hand eczema was less frequent among frequent hand moisturizer users (>3–4 times/day). Positive patch test reactions were observed in 61.4%. Frequent allergens were nickel sulfate (35.7%), cobalt chloride (28.6%) and thiomersal (21.4%). Among various antibiotics, ciprofloxacin (11.4%), trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole (11.4%) and gentamicin (7.1%) were revealed as common allergens, in order of frequency. Hand eczema is quite common among hospital nursing staffs. Proper preventive programs and educations are demanded.