Medical Service

Skin protection and occupational skin diseases

At just under two square metres, the skin is the largest organ in the human body. It protects against external influences and forms a natural barrier. The skin's barrier can be compromised by various hazards. These include:

  • Physical influences such as mechanical damage, UV radiation, climate and dust.
  • Chemicals and working materials such as acids, alkalis and organic solvents, cleaning agents, cooling lubricants, oils and varnishes.
  • Humid work (working in a humid environment in combination with prolonged wearing of liquid-tight gloves or frequent or intensive hand washing)

The skin can regenerate itself within a certain time after damage. The regeneration of the skin often takes longer than the time between the damaging influences. Damage can thus accumulate and lead to manifest skin diseases.

The first signs of skin diseases can be dry, rough skin. If the skin-damaging exposure continues, eczema can develop. These can be, for example, allergic contact eczema or wear and tear eczema. Eczema is an inflammation of the skin that can be accompanied by redness, itching, swelling, overheating, scaling and cracking of the skin.

Skin diseases often cause a great deal of suffering and, in the worst case, lead to the person giving up their job. The good news is that skin diseases can be prevented. Risks for skin diseases are identified through risk assessment. Employers are obliged to carry out this assessment and define protective measures. If skin changes nevertheless occur at the workplace, the company medical service should be informed at an early stage so that the skin protection measures can be checked and adjusted if necessary.

If the suspicion that the skin disease is caused or aggravated by the occupation is confirmed, the accident insurance institutions support the prevention measures on site and offer individual prevention measures if necessary.

Skin protection and skin care

Skin protection and skin care play an essential role in reducing damage, promoting skin regeneration and preventing the development of eczema. Skin exposure or skin hazards are present when wet work or work is carried out with hazardous substances that are hazardous to the skin or resorptive to the skin. Activities that are harmful to the skin include:

  • Wearing liquid-tight gloves, especially in connection with frequent hand washing
  • Working in a humid environment
  • Handling chemical and biological substances
  • Frequent hand washing

To ensure complete skin protection, a skin protection plan must be drawn up. This plan lists measures for the three pillars of skin protection (skin protection, skin cleansing, skin care).

Skin protection products are used for precautionary purposes. They are applied to the hands before work and form a protective film on the skin. Skin care products help the skin to regenerate. Due to their fat content, they counteract the loss of lipids and moisture from the skin. They are applied after work.

As part of occupational health care, the company medical service advises employees who perform activities that are harmful to the skin on hazards to the skin and on protective measures. The preventive medical check-up serves the early detection of workplace-related skin changes and the instruction of workplace-related skin prevention.

Registration for occupational health care is done by presenting the supervisor's information stating that the employee is engaged in an activity that is hazardous to the skin, by telephone or by e-mail to the secretariat of the company medical service.