Occupational contact sensitization in female geriatric nurses: Data of the Information Network of Departments of Dermatology (IVDK) 2005–2014

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Geriatric nurses (GN) have a high risk of occupational contact dermatitis (OCD), with chronic irritant contact dermatitis predominating. However, allergic contact dermatitis is an important issue as well. Little is known whether the relevant occupational allergen spectrum reported in the 1990s, including fragrances, preservatives, rubber chemicals and ingredients of surface disinfectants to be the most common sensitizers in GN, is still valid.


To monitor the current allergen spectrum in GN with OCD and verify the validity of the patch test recommendations (baseline-, preservative-, ointment base-, rubber-, disinfectant, series and fragrances) in GN with suspected OCD given by the German Contact Dermatitis Research Group (DKG).


Retrospective analysis of IVDK data (2005–2014) of 743 female GN with OCD, in comparison to 695 GN without OCD.


GN with OCD reacted significantly more frequently to both fragrance mixes, hydroxyisohexyl 3-cyclohexene carboxaldehyde (HICC), thiuram mix, zinc diethyldithiocarbamate and mercaptobenzothiazole than GN without OCD. Reactions to MDBGN, methylchloroisothiazolinone/methylisothiazolinone and oil of turpentine occurred substantially, but not significantly more frequently among GN with OCD. The latter may be due to former use of a special alcoholic liniment in geriatric care. Among material from the patients’ workplaces, tetrazepam was a frequent allergen, due to dust exposure from pill crushing. Furthermore, occupationally used protective gloves, body care products as well as surface disinfectants were often tested positively.


The general allergen spectrum in GN with OCD is unchanged, so the DKG patch test recommendations are still valid. Prevention of occupational sensitization should focus on fragrance-free hygiene and body care products, usage of accelerator-free protective gloves and avoidance of drug dust exposure.

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