Relationship of occupation to contact dermatitis: evaluation in patients tested from 1998 to 2000

Am J Contact Dermat. 2002 Dec;13(4):170-6. doi: 10.1053/ajcd.2002.36635.


Background: Both irritant and allergic contact dermatitis can be influenced by occupational and nonoccupational environmental exposures.

Objective: The aim of this study is to compare the occupations and allergens of occupational contact dermatitis cases with nonoccupational contact dermatitis cases.

Methods: Diagnostic patch testing was conducted with the 50 screening allergens of the North American Contact Dermatitis Group and occupational coding by the Surveillance Branch of the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health.

Results: Of the 5,839 patients patch tested for contact dermatitis, 1,097 (19%) were deemed to be occupationally related. Of the occupational cases, 60% were of allergic and 32% were of irritant origin. The hands were the primary body part affected in 64% of allergic occupational cases and 80% of irritant occupational cases. Epoxy resin was the only allergen tested that was associated more with an occupational exposure than nonoccupational exposure. The allergens encountered most frequently in the occupational cases were carba mix, thiuram mix, epoxy resin, formaldehyde, and nickel. The medical field is overrepresented in the data compared with other occupations.

Conclusions: Occupational contact dermatitis frequently was found to be multifactorial and associated with several specific allergens and occupations.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Evaluation Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Allergens / pharmacology*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Dermatitis, Allergic Contact / diagnosis
  • Dermatitis, Allergic Contact / epidemiology
  • Dermatitis, Allergic Contact / etiology
  • Dermatitis, Contact / diagnosis
  • Dermatitis, Contact / epidemiology*
  • Dermatitis, Contact / etiology*
  • Dermatitis, Irritant / diagnosis
  • Dermatitis, Irritant / epidemiology
  • Dermatitis, Irritant / etiology
  • Dermatitis, Occupational / diagnosis
  • Dermatitis, Occupational / epidemiology*
  • Dermatitis, Occupational / etiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • North America / epidemiology
  • Occupational Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Occupations*
  • Patch Tests
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Sensitivity and Specificity


  • Allergens