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About Eczema

   

Dermatitis and eczema are synonyms. It is important to understand this because the word 'dermatitis' has developed a special (and unwarranted) significance in everyday language. It has come to mean any rash that is occupationally induced. For this reason, if for no other, the term should only be used with care to patients.

Dermatitis is not a single disease - it is a group of disorders that all show a particular type of epidermal reaction. This may be precipitated by chemical or physical injury, by a specific hypersensitivity to something in the environment or by a constitutional predisposition (atopic dermatitis, for example). Because the reaction is similar regardless of the cause, rashes due to widely differing stimuli may look the same. For this reason it is not easy to determine whether a particular patient's dermatitis rash is due to his occupation or not. It is vital to take a detailed history concerning all potential irritants both at home and at work - and to keep accurate records for medico legal purposes. Patch tests to determine whether there are any hypersensitivity will also be required. Clearly, when there is any question as to whether the rash has been caused by the patient's work or not, specialist advice should be sought.Source:Eczema Information at Eczemo.com

The dilemma as to whether to continue work or not is probably most frequently caused by the sudden onset of dermatitis of the hands and/or fingers. To illustrate the key points of diagnosis and management, I will describe four typical, but different, examples of the kind of problems that practitioners can expect to encounter regularly.