Contact allergy and hand eczema in Swedish dentists.Contact Dermatitis 2000; 43(4):192-9CD
Hand eczema and contact allergy in Swedish dentists were studied in a multidisciplinary project. The aims of the study were to establish diagnoses, to investigate the occurrence of contact allergy, in particular to (meth)acrylates, and to evaluate certain consequences of hand eczema. A postal questionnaire on skin symptoms, atopy and occupational experience was mailed to 3,500 dentists aged <65 years, and licensed 1965-1995. The response rate was 88%. Among dentists living in 3 major cities, 14.9% (n= 191) reported hand eczema during the previous year. They were invited to a clinical examination, including patch testing with a standard and a dental series. 158/191 (83%) dentists attended, and hand eczema diagnosis was confirmed in 149/158 (94%). Irritant contact dermatitis was diagnosed in 67% and allergic contact dermatitis in 28%. On patch testing, 50% presented at least 1 positive reaction. The most frequent allergens were nickel sulfate, fragrance mix, gold sodium thiosulfate and thiuram mix. 7 (5%) had positive reactions to (meth)acrylates, all to 2-hydroxyethyl methacrylate and 6 also to ethyleneglycol dimethacrylate. 38% had consulted a physician, 4% had been on sick-leave and 1% had changed occupational tasks due to hand eczema. No dentist with allergy to acrylates had been on sick-leave or changed occupation. It is concluded that dentistry is a high-risk occupation for hand eczema, and that irritant contact dermatitis is most common. The prevalence of contact allergy to acrylates was below 1% in the population of responding dentists, and in most cases did not have serious medical, social or occupational consequences.