Eczema and Your Job

Eczema can affect many areas of your life, including your job. That’s especially true if yours is severe or appears on your hands.

The itching, burning, and open, oozing wounds that eczema causes can make it hard to use your hands. During a flare-up, you might not be as productive as you'd like. You may not be able to do all the tasks that you'd normally do.

You may also need to take time off while you heal or go to doctor’s appointments. If your co-workers aren’t familiar with eczema, you may worry about what they think about your skin issues.

Tell Them About It

Your co-workers may not know that eczema is a chronic skin condition that isn’t contagious. They might not realize it can cause problems (like pain and bleeding, cracking skin) -- or even that it can show up on areas of your body like your hands.

If you’re embarrassed or ashamed about your skin or the problems your eczema causes, it can help to have a short conversation with your co-workers. You don’t have to tell them everything, but you could say something like, “I have a condition called eczema that can make my skin irritated. You can’t catch it.”

Don’t be afraid to ask others for help when you need it. Flare-ups come and go, and you can do your best to return the favor when you feel better.

Steer Clear of Triggers

If you’re not familiar with what brings on your eczema, talk to your doctor. She may even test you to find out if you have allergies that cause your eczema.

Common eczema triggers include:

  • Regular exposure to water (like washing dishes or frequent hand-washing)
  • Antibacterial products, cleansers, or other products that contain alcohol or solvents. (There are now some hand sanitizers that are moisturizing.)

If you can, avoid triggers while you work. Keep them off your skin. Also try to make sure irritating substances stay off your clothes, other work gear, or your work surface. (If your work area gets cleaned with these things, you may ask to wash your work area yourself, or wipe it down with plain water afterward.)

If you have to come in contact with irritating substances, wear heavy vinyl gloves or neoprene gloves with cotton glove liners underneath.

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Take Care of Yourself

A daily routine is one of the best ways to keep eczema at bay. That can also make getting your job done easier.

  • When you wash your hands, use lukewarm water instead of hot, and only use fragrance-free cleansers.
  • After hand washing, blot your hands dry (instead of scrubbing with a towel or using a heated dryer), and put moisturizer on right after.
  • Bring your moisturizer and your eczema medication with you to work.

If your eczema is interfering with your work -- or any other part of your life -- see a dermatologist, a doctor who focuses on skin. She can help you find ways to prevent flare-ups and get the treatment you need.

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Debra Jaliman, MD on June 20, 2019

Sources

SOURCES:

American Academy of Dermatology: "Dry, Scaly, and Painful Hands Could Be Eczema."

Annales De Dermatologie Et De Venereologie: "Hand Eczema: Disability and Impact."

JAMA Dermatology: "Health Care Utilization, Patient Costs, and Access to Care in US Adults with Eczema."

National Psoriasis Foundation: "Talking to Others About Your Disease."

National Eczema Association: "Understanding Hand Eczema."

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