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 Special Report

As seasons change, hand hygiene and care is evenmore important

Hand hygiene is a must throughout the year, but the change in seasons reminds us of the importance of hand care. Suzanne DeMaine, European marketing manager for GOJO Europe, explains.

As temperatures tumble, our skin takes extra punish- ment. In the run-up to au- tumn and winter, the grooming and beauty pages of men’s and women’s mag- azines offer their annual warnings over the perils of harsh winds and central heating, and their ability to dry out our skin. I don’t know of any official statis- tics on this, but I think it’s probably safe to say that sales of face and body moisturisers see a surge at this time. But what about our

hands? The changing sea- sons can affect their mois- ture levels, it’s true, but just day-to-day living and work- ing can also take their toll. This is why hand hygiene products should incorporate caring, skin conditioning el- ements, alongside the abil- ity to banish germs and bacteria. Moisturising after you

have washed your hands is something that can benefit everyone, whatever job they do, but it is especially im- portant in certain occupa- tions. People working in ‘heavy industry’ areas such as mechanics, agricultural workers, and printers, as well as those in more cus- tomer facing jobs such as cleaning, catering, hair- dressing, and floristry, all need to take special care of their hands. People working in these sectors come into contact with various sub- stances that can take a toll on their hands, including chemicals, solvents, and resins, and the fact that their hands may spend a lot of time immersed in water is another possible prob- lem. At worst, these factors

20 l C&M l DECEMBER 2013 l

can cause one of the most common occupational health problems - contact dermati- tis.

What is contact dermatitis?

Contact dermatitis is inflam- mation of the skin caused by contact with a range of ma- terials, some of which were mentioned previously. Al- though it can affect all parts of the body, the condition usually manifests itself on the hands. There are three main types: • Irritant contact dermati-

tis - this is caused by things that dry out and damage the skin such as detergents, sol- vents, oils, and prolonged or frequent contact with water. • Allergic contact dermati-

tis - this occurs when some- one becomes allergic to

something that comes into contact with the skin, with allergic reactions sometimes showing up hours or days after contact. • Contact urticaria - an-

other allergic reaction, this time occurring withinmin- utes of thematerial in ques- tion touching the skin. Symptoms of the different

types of dermatitis are simi- lar. The first sign of the con- dition is dry, red, and itchy skin. This can develop fur- ther into swelling, flaking, blistering, cracking, and pain - which is not pleasant at all. Another important factor to be aware of is that this con- dition can increase the risk of infection if the skin is bro- ken and not treated, making dermatitis a possible cause of work-related absenteeism and sickness.

According to ‘Work-related

Skin Disease in Great Britain 2013’, a report from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), during 2010-2012 there were an estimated 122 new diagnoses of skin dis- ease per 100,000 workers per year. This is equivalent to over 35,000 new diagnoses of work-related disease each year over this period. The HSE offers a wide

range of advice on this prob- lem, advising employers about their duties of care to their employees. Health sur- veillance - where informa- tion about workers’ health related to the substances they use - is recommended. It also suggests three simple steps to prevent dermatitis: • Avoid contact with the

materials that cause der- matitis. • Protect the skin. • Check for early signs of

dermatitis. Employers can help work-

ers protect their skin by en- suring there is constant and clear communication, edu-

cating and informing them on how to wash and care for their hands correctly. The other essential part of the equation is to provide employees with easily ac- cessible, effective formula- tions that are a pleasure to use. GOJO helps customers

from a wide range of sec- tors combat the spread of germs in the workplace while maintaining skin con- dition, thanks to its three- step system: wash, sanitise, and moisturise. Hardwork- ing hands can be healthy if these simple steps are fol- lowed. Moisturising isn’t a luxury, it’s essential, so never forget to include this vital component of skin health in your hand hygiene regime.

For more information about hand hygiene solutions fromGOJO call 01908 588444, email, or visit united-kingdom.

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