Background. Occupational hand eczema is common in hairdressers, owing to excessive exposure to wet work and hairdressing chemicals.
Objectives. To quantify occupational skin exposure and the use of protective gloves among hairdressers in Denmark.
Methods. A register-based study was conducted comprising all graduates from hairdressing vocational schools from 1985 to 2007 (n = 7840). The participants received a self-administered postal questionnaire in May 2009, including questions on hairdressing tasks performed in the past week at work and the extent of glove use. A response rate of 67.9% (n = 5324) was obtained.
Results. Of the respondents, 55.7% still worked as hairdressers, and they formed the basis of this study. Daily wet work was excessive; 86.6% had wet hands for ≥2 hr, and 54% for ≥ 4 hr. Glove use was fairly frequent for full head hair colouring and bleaching procedures (93–97.7%), but less frequent for highlighting/lowlighting procedures (49.7–60.5%) and permanent waving (28.3%). Gloves were rarely worn during hair washing (10%), although this was more frequently the case after hair colouring procedures (48.9%).
Conclusions. Occupational skin exposure was excessive among hairdressers; the extent of wet work and chemical treatments was high, and glove use was inconsistent, especially for certain hair colouring procedures and wet work tasks.