My job caused eczema so bad that I couldn’t even dress myself
As National Eczema Awareness Week begins, the charity is drawing attention to the psychological aspect of the skin disease, Lorraine Cunningham explains how her job made her ill and affected all areas of her life.
8 million sufferers
8 million people in the UK are currently living with some kind of skin disease. In some cases, a person’s job might be making it worse or even causing it. Lorraine, 44 from Runcorn, 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.
I couldn’t even dress myself
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.