Background: Hand dermatitis is a significant problem among inpatient nurses. Accurate population-based data on the prevalence and risk factors for hand dermatitis in this group are lacking.
Objective: To determine the prevalence of hand dermatitis in inpatient nurses at a US hospital.
Methods: Each nursing unit in a single hospital was visited twice by a single physician. All nurses working at the time of each visit were questioned and examined. No nurses were enrolled twice.
Results: Fifty-five percent (92 of 167) of the nurses had hand dermatitis. Among intensive care unit (ICU) nurses, the prevalence was 65% (35 of 54); among non-ICU nurses, the prevalence was 50% (57 of 113). In nurses with self-reported atopic dermatitis, the prevalence was 71% (12 of 17); in nurses without self-reported atopic dermatitis, it was 53% (80 of 150). Data collection on variables such as hand hygiene and glove use relied on subject recall and was considered unreliable. There was a low prevalence of atopic patients.
Conclusions: Hand dermatitis affects over 50% of inpatient nurses. Hand dermatitis appears to be more common in the ICU setting and in nurses with a self-reported history of atopy.