According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), frequent and repeated use of hand hygiene products, including soaps and hand sanitizers, can lead to chronic occupational dermatitis. It’s especially a problem in fields where workers must wash their hands numerous times a day — such as in healthcare, foodservice, cleaning and industrial.

The weeping, cracked and angry red rash that results from the use of irritating soaps, hand sanitizers and water is more than uncomfortable, however. An individual’s skin acts as a barrier to bacteria and other pathogens, and cracks in that shield against disease can cause infection and lead to loss of productivity.

“In a heavier industrial application where mechanics or people are doing work where heavy soils are involved, a stronger product is needed to clean worker’s hands and thus it is more likely that they will experience some kind of outbreak like dermatitis,” says Ron Attman, vice president of Acme Paper and Supply Co., Savage, Md.

The CDC estimates that up to 35 percent of all occupational diseases are skin-related, and can range from skin infections to skin cancer. Contact dermatitis is one of the most common types of occupational illness, with estimated medical costs at nearly $1.5 billion annually.

That’s the bad news. The good news is that building service contractors are uniquely poised to address this issue. While a good hand hygiene program is a must for any facility, particularly those in the healthcare or foodservice fields, the best offense to occupational dermatitis is prevention.

Here, BSCs can provide needed help by spec’ing the appropriate products for the facility and the market.

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Avoid Dry, Cracked Hands With Moisturizing Hand Sanitizer