Skin problems in painters and decorators

Author: Brian Wu PhD. MD Candidate, Keck School of Medicine, Los Angeles, USA. Chief Editor: Hon A/Prof Amanda Oakley, Dermatologist, Hamilton, New Zealand, February 2016.


There are numerous painters and decorators worldwide involved in the construction and renovation of homes and buildings. However, painting is considered to be a high-risk occupation for skin disorders. In one study, 32% of painters had contact dermatitis. Another study found that the switch to water-based paints has decreased these dangers.

Why are painters/decorators at risk?

Several factors put painters/decorators at risk for occupational skin disorders, including:

Understanding occupational skin disease

Occupational disease is a major risk for workers worldwide. In the United States alone, it affects an estimated 13 million workers. These disorders occur when work-related agents ??which can be biological, mechanical, chemical or physical ??breach the protective barrier of the skin. The most common forms of occupational skin disease include dermatitis, skin cancer, mechanical injuries to the skin and skin infections.

Skin conditions associated with painters and decorators

Skin conditions are common in painters and decorators.

Contact dermatitis

Mechanical Injury

Exposure to solar radiation

Workplace risk assessment

An effective workplace risk assessment should take into account:

Methods to increase safety include:

Personal protective equipment

Gloves for hand protection are recommended when working with paints, adhesives, epoxy resins and other hazardous chemicals. Cloth gloves should be avoided when working with plasters and other corrosives, as these are inadequate for protection.혻 Hard hats, work boots, protective clothing and masks also increase general worker safety.

Provision of and education on personal protective equipment is needed in order to ensure that it is used properly and safely.

Hand care advice for painters and decorators

Diagnosis and treatment of occupational skin disease

Diagnosis of an occupational skin disease should be based on:

Treatment can include:

Related information

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