Background: Occupational skin diseases (OSDs) often have considerable medical and occupational consequences. Previous data on prognostic factors have been derived from studies with fairly small sample sizes.
Objectives: To determine the medical and occupational outcome in 1048 patients diagnosed with OSD at the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health and to identify the prognostic risk factors for the continuation of OSD.
Methods: Patients examined in 1994-2001 filled out a follow-up questionnaire 6 months after the diagnosis. Data on atopy, contact allergies, and occupation were analysed.
Results: Six months after the diagnosis the skin disease had healed in 27% of the patients. The OSD had cleared up in 17% of those with no changes at work, and in 34% of those who had changed their job/occupation. The best clearing had occurred in the patients with contact urticaria (35%), whereas the healing of allergic (27%) and irritant (23%) contact dermatitis was similar. The risk factors for continuing occupational contact dermatitis (OCD) were no changes in work, age > 45 years, food-related occupations, respiratory atopy, and male sex.
Conclusions: The healing of OSD was associated with discontinuation of the causative exposure. A change in work and the presence of easily avoidable work-related allergies were associated with a good prognosis.