Authors: A Fourie & HA Carman

Source: Occupational Health Southern Africa, September/October2010, 16(5): 6-11


The incidence of occupational skin disease (OSD) is under- reported and under-compensated in South Africa. The OSD clinic at the National Institute for Occupational Health was started in 2005 to provide a service for the identification and management of OSD. Given the paucity of information on the burden of OSDs, a record review was conducted to characterise the cases of OSDs seen at the clinic between 2005 and 2009.

Of the 216 patients seen, 141 (65%) were diagnosed as having OSDs. The type of OSDs, duration, primary site, the most common occupations and exposures, and the role of atopy are presented. Contact dermatitis, either irritant or allergic (or both) was diagnosed in 120 (85%) of the cases. The majority (68%) had symptoms for longer than four months. Atopy was diagnosed in 29 (21%) of workers with OSD. Epoxy resin dermatitis was the most important single cause of occupational allergic contact dermatitis.

Key wordsoccupational skin disease, contact dermatitis, atopy, HIV, causative agents