Prevalence of hand dermatitis in inpatient nurses at a United States hospital

Dermatitis. 2007 Sep;18(3):140-2. doi: 10.2310/6620.2007.06024.


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.

MeSH terms

  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Dermatitis, Allergic Contact / epidemiology*
  • Dermatitis, Allergic Contact / etiology
  • Dermatitis, Allergic Contact / pathology
  • Dermatitis, Occupational / epidemiology*
  • Dermatitis, Occupational / etiology
  • Dermatitis, Occupational / pathology
  • Hand Dermatoses / chemically induced
  • Hand Dermatoses / epidemiology*
  • Hand Dermatoses / pathology
  • Hospital Units
  • Hospitals, Teaching
  • Humans
  • Nurses / statistics & numerical data*
  • Pennsylvania / epidemiology
  • Prevalence
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Workload