Background: The interplay between the occupational environment and worker's skin can result in contact dermatitis of both irritant and allergic types. Other forms of dermatitis can also be influenced by occupational exposures. Objective: The aim of this study is to compare the occupations and allergens of occupational contact dermatitis cases with nonoccupational contact dermatitis cases. Methods: Diagnostic patch testing with allergens of the North American Contact Dermatitis Group and occupational coding by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health methods. Results: Of 2,889 patients referred for evaluation of contact dermatitis, 839 patients (29%) were found to have occupational contact dermatitis. Of the 839 cases deemed occupational, 455 cases (54%) were primarily allergic in nature and 270 cases (32%) were primarily irritant in nature. The remaining 14% were diagnoses other than contact dermatitis, aggravated by work. The occupation most commonly found to have allergic contact dermatitis was nursing. Allergens strongly associated with occupational exposure were thiuram, carbamates, epoxy, and ethylenediamine. Conclusion: Some contact allergens are more commonly associated with occupational contact dermatitis. Nursing and nursing support are occupations most likely to be overrepresented in contact dermatitis clinics.
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