Contact dermatitis in the cleaning industry

Curr Opin Allergy Clin Immunol. 2013 Oct;13(5):521-4. doi: 10.1097/ACI.0b013e328364ec21.


Purpose of review: The review summarizes recent findings on contact dermatitis in the cleaning industry.

Recent findings: Contact dermatitis is still an important issue in cleaning. Recent studies identified cleaning work sites and tasks, as well as specific cleaning products, which incur a risk increase for occupational contact dermatitis in cleaning. Workers involved in cleaning outdoors prevalence ratio [PR 1.85, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.16-2.96], cleaning common areas of residential buildings (PR 1.77, 95% CI 1.11-2.84), schools (PR 1.84, 95% CI 1.15-2.93) and cleaning building sites (PR 1.87, 95% CI 1.18-2.95) showed significantly higher rates of contact dermatitis. Relevant allergens in cleaning are rubber chemicals and disinfectants. Leading allergens are thiurams (11.6%, 95% CI 9.1-14.1) and formaldehyde (3.4%, 95% CI 2.0-4.7), but contact with metal allergens might also be important. The most likely allergen sources for sensitization against rubber chemicals are protective gloves. High sensitization rates for disinfectants might result from the fact that employees in cleaning often use single-use medical examination gloves while cleaning. These gloves are not resistant to chemicals, which may break through the gloves within a short period of time, depending on glove material and thickness. No differences in sensitization rates and sensitization profiles were seen in cleaners of younger (≤40 years) and older (>40 years) age.

Summary: Prevalence of occupational contact dermatitis is still high in cleaning. Irritant contact dermatitis is prevailing, but allergic contact dermatitis is quite frequent, too. Up to now, prevention strategies in cleaning seem to be insufficient.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Allergens / immunology
  • Animals
  • Dermatitis, Contact / epidemiology*
  • Dermatitis, Contact / immunology*
  • Detergents / adverse effects
  • Disinfectants / immunology
  • Gloves, Protective / adverse effects
  • Humans
  • Industry / statistics & numerical data
  • Occupational Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Occupational Diseases / immunology*
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors
  • Rubber / adverse effects


  • Allergens
  • Detergents
  • Disinfectants
  • Rubber