Skincare at work

Your skin is a protective organ. It’s important to keep up good skincare at work, especially if your skin is exposed to damaging substances in a technical work environment.

Work-related skin problems almost always take the form of dermatitis, eczema, or occupational skin disorders (OSDs).

Causes of dermatitis

Dermatitis can be caused by contact with a range of materials, including:

  • solvents and mineral oils,
  • chemicals; acids and alkalis,
  • cleaning agents and detergents,
  • natural products such as food and water with prolonged contact.

Frequently rubbing or washing your skin can also cause dermatitis, particularly if soap residue is not washed off properly or if the skin is not dried.

Front page cover of leaflet promoting good skincare at work Leaflet

Advice for how to monitor and maintain good skincare at work.

Image of information about skincare at work in pull-out pocket card Pocket card

Pull-out pocket card about how to protect your skin at work.

Jobs that are sometimes associated with dermatitis include:

  • cleaning,
  • engineering,
  • gardening,
  • maintenance,
  • technical roles.

Main symptoms of dermatitis

You might experience the main symptoms of dermatitis on your hands.

After repeated exposures, your cells can recognise chemicals if they penetrate the skin, causing a reaction of intense itching.

Protecting your skin

Developing a skin irritation could cause serious health problems. It's important to care for your skin to prevent damage.

Just one minute of contact with a substance you are sensitive to can cause a rash lasting for days.

Skin sensitivities like this generally remain for life.

What to expect from the University

Through our Occupational Health Service, we monitor how your work environment could affect your health.

If we have identified that your work at the University is likely to cause dermatitis, a risk assessment will be carried out and adequate control measures will be put in place to prevent ill health or worsening of health conditions due to your job or working environment.

What to do if you experience difficulties with your skin

Report any work-related skin problems to your manager, who can refer you to the Occupational Health Service for advice regarding working practices, skin care, treatment and glove use.

Advice for managers

Managers need to train staff, provide instruction and suitable personal protective equipment (PPE) and washing facilities.

If you have groups of employees who are regularly exposed to skin irritants during their work, you may need to set up a system of regular skin checks carried out by a competent person within your school or service.

Contact us for further advice and training.

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