Workplace continues to cause distressing eczema

Workplace continues to cause distressing eczema

This year’s National Eczema Week (16-24 September) is encouraging sufferers to share their stories in a bid to help others feel less isolated.  Not only can eczema cause mental distress, it can also be so debilitating and it can even leave people unable to leave their home.

Many people are still unaware that it’s their workplace that causes or exacerbates their dermatitis, and that it is one of the most widespread causes of ill health.  It’s estimated that around 84,000 people have dermatitis caused or made worse by their work in the UK.

One person who has shared her story is Lorraine Cunningham from Runcorn.  She had never suffered from any skin conditions when she started working as a carer at a home for dementia sufferers.  Within weeks she developed a rash on her right hand which rapidly got worse, leaving her with blisters and unable to perform basic tasks.

Contact Dermatitis causes everyday struggles for sufferers

When Lorraine took time off work, the rash improved.  After seeing her GP, she was diagnosed with ‘contact dermatitis’ – in other words, eczema, which was being caused by the washing up liquid used at work.  Lorraine explains how it affected her:

`’When it flared up I couldn’t even dress myself, my husband had to do up my buttons.  It even got to the point where going to the loo was difficult.  I couldn’t do my daughter’s hair.  It affected every part of my life.”

Fortunately for Lorraine, she began a new career as a dental nurse and, while she has to take care not to immerse her hands in water for too long, she remains eczema–free.

She advises anyone else suffering to see their GP straight away and to claim compensation if they believe that their occupation has caused their eczema or even made an existing condition worse.

Employers have a duty to protect you from “industrial disease”

Annabel Chadwick, Head of Hazardous Substances at law firm Roberts Jackson, explained:

“Work-related eczema is classed as an industrial disease and employers have a duty of care to protect their workforce.  Hand dermatitis or eczema is common and can affect about one in every 20 people.  For some people, the eczema can be mild and short-lived but for others it can have a massive impact on their day-to-day life, their ability to go out to work and just lead a normal life.  These people deserve compensation.”

Having wet hands for prolonged periods at work, along with soaps and other cleaning products, is the most common cause of occupational contact dermatitis.  The occupations most commonly at risk are cleaners, florists, hairdressers, kitchen workers, carers, nurses, beauticians and metal workers, amongst many others.

Scientists closer to finding a cure

Scientists at Newcastle University have come a step closer to developing a cure for eczema after they found that a deficiency in the skin’s natural barrier can cause the condition.

Professor Reynolds and his team said their findings, published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, could help drug researchers to identify the causes of eczema and develop a cure for the condition, replacing current treatments which involve steroid creams and only have a temporary affect.

Roberts Jackson can help

If you or anyone you know suffer from contact dermatitis, we would always advise you visit your GP to establish the cause. If your skin condition is linked to substances that you work with or is a general result of your occupation you may have a claim for compensation.

You can speak with Annabel or her expert dermatitis team by calling our Freephone number on 0800 001 4496. They will use their unrivalled knowledge of the legal landscape to win your case and obtain the compensation you deserve.