Background and objectives: The aim of this cross-sectional study was to collect data on the prevalence of hand eczema and relevant risk factors in geriatric nurses in Germany.
Methods: 1375 geriatric nurses from 86 nursing homes were investigated by 41 occupational physicians.
Results: Hand eczema was diagnosed in 243 nurses, corresponding to a point prevalence of 18% [95% confidence interval (CI) 16–20%]. In most cases (71%), the skin changes were only mild. Two thirds of the geriatric nurses who reported skin changes stated that they had developed hand eczema after starting this profession. In most cases (85%), the clinical course was described as chronic. Risk factors associated with hand eczema were a lifelong tendency for dry skin [odds ratios (OR) 2.76; 95% CI 2.02–3.76] and a history of allergic rhinoconjunctivitis (OR 1.50; 95% CI 1.03–2.18). There was no association between the amount of wet work and hand eczema (OR 1.18; 95% CI 0.76–1.86).
Conclusions: Our study indicates that it is necessary to provide geriatric nurses with specific skin care advice as part of their training. This might help to identify trainees at increased risk of developing eczema, encouraging the initiation of appropriate skin protection measures, thus preventing chronic disease.