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How to manage skin allergies?

Q: I am having skin allergy because of contact with petroleum products such as kerosene, diesel, lubricating oils, etc. On coming with contact with these oils I get mild redness on skin. I am working in a petroleum refinery. However, I come in contact with oils only occasionally may be once in six months or so. I am not allergic to any medicines. Kindly advise me precautions to be taken and medicines for short term occasional exposure to these oils. Also, advise long term solution to treat this problem.

A:It is not rare to get allergic reaction to oil or its constituents. As you don't get blisters or oozing lesions on your hands so I can presume that your dermatitis (eczema) is allergic and not irritant. It is to be remembered that oils most commonly produce folliculitis and acne. They may cause Irritant Contact Dermatitis(ICD) but rarely allergic dermatitis. The factors contributing to irritation include:

  • the chemical properties of the substance
  • the amount and concentration of chemical coming in contact with the skin, and the length and frequency of the exposure.
  • temperature, humidity, moisture, barometric pressure, friction, contamination The remedy to your problem would lie in wearing hypo-allergenic gloves for the time period that you come in contact with the oils. Occupational irritant contact dermatitis can be avoided by the following measures:
  • personal hygiene (hand-washing)
  • substitution with a less harmful substance
  • education about the harmful properties of the contact substance
  • protective clothing (aprons, gloves with manufacturers specifications (e.g., kind material, duration of exposure/glove contact time with chemical) should be followed.
  • convenient washing facilities Occupational contact dermatitis may be treated with compresses, creams, ointments and skin cleansers.

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