Dealing with Dermatitis

Wednesday, October 18, 2017 at 10:27 AM

A cosmetologist’s job is helping to make people look their best, but that can be a challenge when the tools of the trade can make you feel less than your best. The trifecta of repeated contact with irritants, exposure to potential allergens and pre-existing sensitive skin can result in unbearable occupation-related skin conditions such as irritant contact dermatitis, allergic contact dermatitis or systemic intoxication.

Occupational dermatitis among hairdressers is nothing new, having first been reported prior to the turn of the 20th century, and some studies indicate up to 70 percent of cosmetologist will suffer some form of occupational skin damage during their career. Approximately 1 in 5 cosmetology students in the United Kingdom abandon training during their first two years due to contact dermatitis.

The first line of defense often includes the use of Personal protective equipment (PPE), such as gloves, which prevent the irritating chemicals from coming into contact with the skin. The problem is, for a growing number of cosmetologists, the gloves themselves may be a source of dermatitis. Natural rubber latex gloves are a common example.

While you might be tempted to self-medicate your dermatitis with over-the-counter medications, chances are you’ll only mask the symptoms without addressing the underlying condition. If you develop dermatitis as a result of your work as a cosmetologist, your best course of action is to seek professional medical attention from an occupational physician, a doctor who is specifically trained to treat diseases caused by work. It is important for you to get proper medical attention and that the exposure causing the skin condition is controlled or eliminated.

If you know you have skin sensitivity, or if you have pre-existing atopic dermatitis, you might want to consider whether a career as a cosmetologist is the best option.