Irritant dermatitis, or skin irritation, is the redness and dryness or scaling that occurs with exposure to the environment, e.g., cold dry winter conditions, water, alcohol and topical treatments such as soaps, shampoos, cleaning solutions and other materials. These factors cause damage to the upper portion of the skin and can allow the irritants to penetrate more easily. Dryness occurs because the normal moisturization processes are disrupted.
Irritant hand dermatitis is a condition that often occurs in healthcare workers since they perform repetitive hand hygiene procedures. We have identified factors that are responsible for increased susceptibility to irritation in this group. We demonstrated that high frequency lotion application helps to reverse the damage. Reduction in irritation and improvement in skin condition are expected to increase hand hygiene compliance.