Occupational skin diseases in cleaning and kitchen employees: Course and quality of life after measures of secondary individual prevention


Correspondence to
E. Weisshaar, M.D.
University of Heidelberg
Department of Clinical Social Medicine
Occupational and Environmental
Thibautstraße 3
D-69115 Heidelberg, Germany
Tel.: +49-62 21-56-87 51
Fax: +49-62 21-56-55 84


Background: Cleaning and kitchen employees have an increased risk of suffering from occupational dermatoses. Prevention including improving individual skin care and skin protection behavior, health education, optimizing diagnostics and therapy as well as avoidance of occupational skin disease (BK 5101) is important.

Patients and methods: Participants in the courses were patients suspected of having an occupational skin disease. Besides socio-demographic and diseaserelated data, health-related quality of life (QL) was measured using the SF-36 and Skindex-29. One year later all participants were interviewed by telephone about the course of their skin disease.

Results: Out of 212 participants, 84.0 % were female. The mean age was 41.6 (SD = 10.8) years.168 patients (79.2 %) suffered from hand dermatitis,with irritant contact dermatitis being the predominant diagnosis (46.2 %,n = 98).One year later 65.4 % (n = 85) of the patients interviewed still suffered from hand der-matitis.9.2 % (n = 12) had meanwhile quit their job due to the skin disease.QL was impaired in all age groups being lower with increasing age of the patients.

Conclusions: The follow-up confirmed the positive impact of the skin protection courses on patients' skin disease and well-being. Occupational skin diseases impair health-related quality of life in these professions but disease severity does not seem to play a key role.