Risk level

The pen instead of the scalpel?

Becoming a doctor is a popular choice that requires lots of training and a real interest in people. There are some risks of eczema at work, but also many ways of staying healthy. If you are prone to eczema, head for a desk job rather than the operating theatre.

What are the risks?

During your training and as a qualified doctor you can often come into contact with irritants that can cause allergies. As hygiene is an important part of the job, doctors wash their hands frequently. Regular contact with soap and water can result in eczema, and the skin becomes dry, red and flaky with cracks and blisters that itch.

Some doctors, such as surgeons and gynaecologists, wear gloves for much of the day. Close-fitting gloves made from plastic or latex can irritate the skin and sometimes cause allergies.

Prevention and avoidance

Having completed your basic training, there are many different paths you can choose as a doctor. Some carry the risk of eczema and allergy, whilst others are a much safer bet. For example, working as a surgeon is more risky than working in corporate health, research or psychiatry.

Avoid eczema and protect your skin by rubbing a moisturising cream into your hands several times a day.

If you suffer from eczema or did so when you were little (atopic eczema), it's a good idea to opt for a field that is less demanding on your skin.

Want to know more?

If you have any questions or want to know more about allergy and eczema when working as a doctor, get in touch with your school nurse or careers adviser.