Skin problems in childcare staff

Author: Brian Wu PhD. MD Candidate, Keck School of Medicine, Los Angeles, USA; Chief Editor: Hon A/Prof Amanda Oakley, Dermatologist, Hamilton, New Zealand, February 2016.


Childcare work is a major employer worldwide. The number of people employed in this sector is expected to expand, especially in developing countries where more women have entered the workforce and are choosing childcare centers over babysitters or childcare from relatives.  However, it is considered to be an occupation at high risk for work-related skin disorders.

Why childcare workers are at risk for occupational skin disorders

Factors that put childcare workers at risk of work-related skin conditions include:

Understanding occupational skin disorders

Occupational skin diseases are a variety of dermatological conditions that are the result of — or made worse by — the nature of patient’s job.  It has a large economic impact in the form of missed days of work and may lead to a change of profession if the condition becomes severe. Occupational dermatoses occur when the protective barrier of the skin is breached by mechanical, chemical or biological means, including cuts and abrasions, exposure to irritants and allergens or contact with viruses or bacteria.  In developed countries, tighter regulation and a greater emphasis on worker safety has been credited with reducing the rate of occupational skin disorders.

Occupational skin disorders associated with childcare workers

There are a number of occupational skin disorders related to childcare workers, including:

Allergic and irritant contact dermatitis

Contact dermatitis is the most frequently occurring skin problem in child care workers:

Mechanical injuries

These are another common risk for child care workers:

Bite injuries

Due to contact with babies, toddlers and preschoolers, human bite injuries may occur.

Head lice infestation

Head lice are a frequent and ongoing problem in the childcare setting.

Sun exposure

Sun exposure tends to be overlooked, but can represent a significant risk over time for childcare workers.

Workplace assessment

An effective workplace assessment should include:

Personal protective equipment

Gloves for hand protection are the most frequently used form of personal protective equipment.

Hand care advice for childcare workers

Advice for protecting childcare workers includes:

Diagnosis and treatment of occupational skin disorders

Diagnosis of an occupational skin disorder should be based on:

Management of occupational skin disease may include:

Related information

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