Hand dermatitis currently prevalent in health care workers

More than 90 percent of health care workers and two-thirds of the general population currently have hand dermatitis, according to a study presented at the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology Spring Symposium, held virtually from May 6 to 7.

Monisha Madhumita and Ramesh Bhat, M.B.B.S., M.D., from the Father Muller Medical College in Mangalore, India, conducted a study among 291 health care workers and 291 healthy individuals from the general population to examine transepidermal water loss (TEWL), measured using a noninvasive, closed chamber system in a standardized environmental setting, and the presence of hand dermatitis.

The researchers found that the prevalence of hand dermatitis was 92.6 and 68.7 percent among health care workers and controls, respectively, based on symptoms and clinical examination. Mean TEWL was higher for women, for intensivists, and in association with alcohol-based hand rub and frequency of handwashing (more than five times/day). Based on medical history and self-reported history, about 3 percent of health care workers and 2.4 percent of controls had a prior history of hand dermatitis. Overall, 99 percent of hand dermatitis cases were of an irritant nature; 6.8 percent used emollients. Skin irritation and dryness were the main challenge to the consistent practice of hand hygiene among health care workers (72.1 percent), while among controls, the main challenges were skin irritation and dryness and high cost (50.8 and 36 percent, respectively).

“This research truly demonstrates the impact of increased hand washing and uptake of alcohol-based rubs on the hand skin health of health care professionals and the general public,” Madhumita said in a statement.