Content » Vol 78, Issue 5

Clinical Report

Contact Allergies in Healthcare Workers. Results from the IVDK

A. Schnuch, W. Uter, J. Geier, P. J. Frosch, T. Rustemeyer
DOI: 10.1080/000155598443060


Healthcare workers often suffer from occupational skin disease frequently caused by allergic sensitization. Therefore the patch-test results and important patient history items of 31,849 patients recorded between 1992 and 1995 in the 24 allergy departments participating in the Information Network of Departments of Dermatology (IVDK) were evaluated. Significantly increased sensitization rates common to the healthcare sector as a whole were found for the vaccine preservative thiomersal (12.6% vs. 4.9%), the surface and instrument disinfectants glutardialdehyde (9.9% vs. 2.6%), formaldehyde (3.6% vs. 2.1%) and glyoxal (4.2% vs. 1.4%), and for the compounds of the thiuram mix (6.7% vs. 2.6%) present in protective gloves. Formaldehyde seems to lose its importance, but glyoxal must be added to the list of occupational allergens in the healthcare sector. In addition, occupation-specific sensitization was observed, with fragrances in massage therapists (16.1% vs. 10.6%) and nurses (13.8% vs. 11.4%), as well as with methacrylates in dental technicians. The often assumed importance of drugs as type-IV allergens was not confirmed, at least in terms of quantity. The identification of subgroups of increased risk and of occupation- specific allergens could be the basis of targeted preventive action in the healthcare sector.


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