Wet work exposure and hand eczema among healthcare workers - a cross-sectional study

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


BACKGROUND: Hand eczema is more common in healthcare workers compared to the general population. The hands are subject to changing occupational exposures due to mandatory hygiene regulations for health care workers.

OBJECTIVES: To describe the exposure due to hygiene procedures and investigate the associations between occupational hand washing, use of non-sterile gloves, and hand disinfectant and self-reported hand eczema.

METHODS: Cross-sectional study with an electronic questionnaire distributed to 28 762 hospital employees in southern Sweden. Respondents working as nurses, assistant nurses or physicians constituted the group of healthcare workers analysed. Adjustments were made for gender, age, wet work at home, life-style factors and atopic dermatitis.

RESULTS: 12 288 (43%) responded including 9051 healthcare workers. In this group the 1-year prevalence of self-reported hand eczema was 21%. On a daily basis, 30% reported hand washing with soap >20 times at work, 45% used hand disinfectants >50 times, and 54% used non-sterile gloves > 2 hours. After adjustment for confounding factors, a dose-dependent association with self-reported hand eczema was found for the daily number of hand washes with soap at work and time working with disposable gloves, but not for alcoholic disinfectant use. Hand washing outside work was not associated with self-reported hand eczema in the adjusted multivariate analysis.

CONCLUSIONS: In this study, we found a higher 1-year prevalence of self-reported hand eczema among Swedish healthcare workers than reported in the general population. Hand washing with soap and use of disposable gloves were associated with the occurrence of self-reported hand eczema in a dose-dependent way. Use of hand disinfectant was not associated with self-reported hand eczema. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.


External organisations
  • Skåne University Hospital
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Dermatology and Venereal Diseases


  • Journal Article
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)452-461
JournalBritish Journal of Dermatology
Issue number2
Early online date2017 Jul 19
Publication statusPublished - 2018 Feb
Publication categoryResearch