An epidemiological study of the influence of season (cold and dry air) on the occurrence of irritant skin changes of the hands

Br J Dermatol. 1998 Feb;138(2):266-72. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2133.1998.02072.x.


In the course of an ongoing cohort study on constitutional and occupational risk factors for the development of irritant hand dermatitis in hairdressing apprentices, an increased prevalence of irritant skin changes was noted in a subgroup examined during particularly cold winter months. Prompted by this observation, the importance of several meteorological factors (day means of temperature, relative and absolute humidity) was assessed in extensive statistical analyses based on data of 742 participants, supplemented by meteorological information obtained from the German Meteorological Service (DWD). There were significant associations of existing hand dermatitis with low temperature and low absolute humidity (Mann-Whitney U-test, P < 0.0001), but not with relative humidity (P = 0.38). Logistic regression analysis, including known determinants of irritant hand dermatitis in this setting, showed that low temperature and low relative humidity tended to be risk factors (OR = 1.66 and 1.57, respectively, for the lower quartiles, P = 0.07 in both cases), and confirmed that absolute humidity significantly influenced the occurrence of irritant hand dermatitis (OR = 2.06 for < 4.8 mg/L, P < 0.01). Thus, these environmental factors must be regarded as possible confounders in the analysis of future epidemiological studies on irritant hand dermatitis and should be considered in multifactorial analyses.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Beauty Culture*
  • Cold Temperature / adverse effects*
  • Dermatitis, Occupational / epidemiology*
  • Dermatitis, Occupational / etiology
  • Female
  • Hair
  • Hand Dermatoses / epidemiology*
  • Hand Dermatoses / etiology
  • Humans
  • Humidity / adverse effects*
  • Male
  • Prevalence
  • Prospective Studies
  • Regression Analysis
  • Risk Factors
  • Seasons*
  • Statistics, Nonparametric