Skin problems in beauticians

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.


Beauticians represent a fairly large profession worldwide. Their occupation is associated with work-related skin disorders, including contact dermatitis and mechanical injury among others.  In one study in Poland, for instance, it was found that 21% of hair stylists and beauticians had some form of occupational skin disease.

Why are beauticians at a high risk for occupational skin disorders?

There are many factors which put beauticians at a high occupational risk, including:

In many studies of occupational dermatitis, beauticians are cited as being at highest risk for developing work-related skin disorders.

Understanding occupational skin disorders

An occupational skin disorder is a dermatological condition brought on due to a patient’s job or work duties and is also called an occupational dermatosis.  Occupational dermatoses are responsible for many lost days or work. The patient may have to change professions due to ongoing skin disease. These dermatoses can be brought about through work-related exposure to allergens, irritants, extreme weather conditions and solar radiation.  Occupational skin disorders have a large economic impact on employers and on employees. 

Skin disorders associated with beauticians

There are several specific skin disorders associated with work as a beautician. They include:

Mechanical injury

Injury to the skin:

Irritant contact dermatitis

Irritant contact dermatitis is more common than allergic contact dermatitis

Allergic contact dermatitis

Allergic  contact dermatitis is common among beauticians.


Phytophotodermatitis is not as widespread among beauticians as contact dermatitis but is still a risk.

Contact urticaria

Contact urticaria refers to the rapid onset of itchy wheals on contact with an allergen or irritant in a susceptible individual. Causes may include latex rubber and hair bleach.

Workplace risk assessment

In order to be effective, a workplace must be assessed for:

Once risks have been identified, reducing this risks can include any of the following:

Personal protective equipment

Gloves for hand protection are the most commonly used form of personal protective equipment among beauticians. It has been shown that the use of gloves can reduce exposure to a variety of irritants and allergens. However, if gloves contain latex or accelerants like thiuram, they can become allergens themselves.  Use of non-latex gloves — and training on their proper donning and disposal — can reduce these problems.

Hand care advice for beauticians

Hand care advice includes:

Diagnosis and treatment of occupational skin disorders

Diagnosis of an occupational skin disorder can be based on:

Treatment of dermatitis can include:

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