Risk level

Bringing it all together

There's always work for tilers in kitchens and bathrooms around the country. A natural flair for colour and form as well as a meticulous approach are good attributes when covering walls and floors with tiles. Preparation work involves using filler which can contain irritants, and cutting tiles with sharp tools. If you have previously had problems with hand eczema, it may well come back as this kind of work is hard on the hands.

What are the risks?

Preparation is key if the finish is to look good and last a long time. The walls and floor are filled and coated with materials designed to keep damp out before the tiles are put in place. Both grout and mortar are abrasive and irritant, while filler contains preservatives that cause allergies. Tilers can also easily end up with small cuts from cutting tools and sharp tiles. You may develop hand eczema if you are sensitive, and the skin becomes red and flaky with cracks and blisters that itch.

Prevention and avoidance

If you have never had eczema, you can avoid skin problems by taking good care of your hands. Carefully wash filler off your skin and rub a moisturising cream into your hands. Hand eczema develops more readily if the skin is dried out. Use protective gloves whenever possible.

Masks and dust filters can prevent you from breathing in irritant dust from the materials you are using.

If you had eczema when you were little (atopic eczema), or if you have previously had hand eczema, you should think carefully before deciding to become a tiler, as the work is hard on the skin and could cause it to come back or get worse.

Want to know more?

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