What is Dermatitis and Asthma?

The official Global Dermatology Drugs Market Forecast to 2022 has been published and shows that there is an increased focus on drugs to treat occupational skin diseases. Industrial disease claims are indeed on the rise, with specialist solicitors having to deal with a large number of clients who have been affected by substandard health and safety conditions in their place of work. Both dermatological and respiratory problems have been on the rise, with both occupational asthma and occupational dermatitis affecting a large number of workers.

What is occupational asthma?

Occupational asthma occurs when a worker is consistently exposed to particles in the air that they eventually become sensitised to. Due to their purpose, human lungs are obviously exposed to various compounds that are carried in the air. Some of these are harmful to the body and some of them are harmless. The immune system of the lungs determines whether or not they need to mount a response to these compounds, and a dysfunction in this system can lead to a response to harmless compounds. This is what ultimately leads to occupational asthma.

What are the symptoms of occupational asthma?

The symptoms of occupational asthma can have a fairly severe impact on a person’s life. The symptoms can include:

  • Constricted chest movement
  • Shortness of breath
  • Wheezing and coughing
  • Asthma attacks

In cases of it developing in the workplace, it is often the case that workers will have been exposed to a particular irritant substance that will have triggered the asthma reaction.

Baker’s Asthma

One of the most common forms of occupational asthma is Baker’s Asthma. It is mainly caused by the inhalation of cereal and wheat flour. In 1700, the Italian physician Bernardino Ramazzini was the first to notice that bakers were experiencing respiratory symptoms due to their exposure to flour dust, but it wasn’t until the beginning of the 20th century that the concept of baker’s asthma was fully established. The British Medical Journal (bmj) has since stated that the awareness of the condition should mean that scientifically based prevention is possible and ‘baker’s asthma should not be regarded as an inevitable occurrence anymore.’ Occupational asthma also doesn’t have to be a permanent condition that people should have to suffer from – if the correct protection is provided and the sufferer is able to remove themselves from the irritant, then the condition should improve.

What is occupational dermatitis?

Occupational dermatitis is when the skin becomes inflamed because of contact with certain hazardous substances or other elements of a working environment. It can be very uncomfortable, but it is not contagious. In a lot of cases, occupational dermatitis is only found on the hands as they are the most exposed part of the body at work, and the sufferer is likely to be touching the substances that trigger the adverse reaction.

Symptoms can include:

  • Rashes
  • Itching
  • Redness
  • Cracking
  • Blotchy skin

In most cases of dermatitis, you will be given an emollient to try and relieve the painful symptoms.

The most common causes of occupational dermatitis include:

  • Flour
  • Cement
  • Bleaches
  • Paints
  • Glues

With any form of occupational hazard – whether it’s asthma or dermatitis – an employer should always provide adequate protection from the causes.