Dental workers are considered to have a high risk of developing occupational hand eczema.
To estimate the prevalence of work-related hand eczema and associated risk factors in dental workers in Japan.
A self-administered questionnaire was sent by mail to all dental clinics of Kumamoto City, Japan. In addition, patch testing with 24 dentistry-related allergens was offered.
In total, 46.4% of dental workers (n = 528: response 31.4%, based on 97 clinics) reported a lifetime history of chronic hand eczema. The 1-year prevalence was 36.2%. According to logistic regression analysis, the most important risk factors for the 1-year prevalence were a personal history of atopic dermatitis [odds ratio (OR) 4.7, 95% confidence interval (CI): 2.2-8.8], asthma and/or allergic rhinitis (OR 2.0, 95%CI: 1.3-3.0), dry skin (OR 1.7, 95%CI: 1.1-2.7), shorter duration of work (OR 2.0, 95%CI: 1.2-3.5 for up to 10 years versus >20 years), and washing hands >10 times per day (OR 1.6, 95%CI: 1.0-2.5). Fifty-four workers were patch tested. Rubber chemicals and acrylates were the most frequent occupationally relevant contact allergens.
Dental workers in Japan have a high prevalence of hand eczema. Health education to prevent hand eczema and more frequent patch testing are needed.