Risk level

Nurses who need nursing?

Nursing is a popular job. Looking after sick and injured people is a big responsibility that requires plenty of commitment. This makes it easy to forget that the associated demands on the skin can cause hand eczema. It's all about being careful - a nurse who needs nursing is no good to anyone!

What are the risks?

During their working day, nurses come into contact with many irritants that can cause allergies. The fact that they wash their hands many times a day doesn't help, as regular contact with soap and water can result in contact eczema where the skin becomes dry, red and flaky with cracks and blisters that itch.

Prevention and avoidance

Of course, not all nurses get eczema, and there are simple ways of reducing the risk. The easiest, and maybe most important, is to protect the skin by rubbing in a moisturising cream several times a day. Due to the risk of infection, nurses often wear gloves, though unfortunately they can irritate the skin, and this can lead to eczema. Gloves of synthetic material are preferred.

Some nursing jobs are harder on the hands than others. For example, working in an operating theatre where you have to wash your hands frequently carries a greater risk than working as a school or company nurse.

If you suffer from eczema or did so when you were little (atopic eczema), you should think carefully before going into nursing.

Want to know more?

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