Amanda Palmer 1, Rosemary Nixon 1, Kate Ryan 2
1 Skin And Cancer Foundation Inc., Carlton, VIC, Australia
2 Hand Hygiene Australia, Heidelberg, VIC, Australia
Healthcare workers (HCWs) are at risk of developing occupational contact dermatitis (OCD), primarily involving the hands. It is estimated that between 30-50% of HCWs have OCD, to varying extents.
OCD can affect HCWs both at work and at home. In particular, skin barrier damage caused by OCD is associated with bacterial colonisation, potentially contributing to hospital-acquired infection (HAI) and impacting on patients.
With appropriate education, OCD is largely preventable.
Reviews of the literature and of our Occupational Dermatology Clinic data were conducted to identify the common causes of OCD in HCWs in our population. This understanding formed the basis of our two educational initiatives, developed in association with Hand Hygiene Australia (HHA). This project was supported by Safe Work Australia.
The review of our clinic data, including assessment of over 550 HCW with OCD, was accepted for publication. Our two initiatives will be available on the HHA website in mid-2016, along with other resources for HCWs. The first initiative is a small contact dermatitis education module that will be incorporated into the current HHA Online Learning Packages. The second is a “stand-alone” comprehensive contact dermatitis education package for HCWs.
Through the development of these initiatives, it is hoped that all nurses (and students) in Australia will become aware of OCD. They will know how to prevent it, detect early symptoms and know what action to take if it develops. We believe that better prevention of OCD is an important step in the reduction of HAI.