Law Office of John A. Hedrick, PLLC

Occupational Skin Diseases

Workers’ compensation is not limited to workplace accidents — you can also be compensated for a work-related diseases. Of course, this won’t help you unless you realize that your condition is work-related. In the US alone, over 13 million workers are exposed to substances that could cause an occupational skin disease, and about 15 percent of occupational disease claims were based on skin diseases. Following are some broad categories of occupational skin diseases.

Irritant Contact Dermatitis

Irritant contact dermatitis adds up to about 80 percent of all cases of occupational skin disease. Most of the irritation is likely to appear on the hands, and chemical burns are the most common cause. In many cases this disease is caused by repeated exposure rather than a single incident. A callus may develop to protect the skin against further injury or, alternatively, the area may become more sensitive and vulnerable over time.

Symptoms include dryness, flaking, and fissuring of the skin as well as swelling and blisters. If the skin is broken, infection is a common result; and this may result in ulcers, swelling and oozing pustules. Once this condition occurs, it is important to prevent further exposure as soon as possible, especially if no protective calluses have developed on the skin.

Allergic Contact Dermatitis

Allergic contact dermatitis is caused by the reaction of your body’s immune system to a particular substance. It can even be triggered by food handling. All told, allergic contact dermatitis adds up to about 10 percent of all cases of occupational skin disease. You might develop this condition suddenly even though you have been handling the same substance for years without symptoms.

Unlike irritant contact dermatitis, skin irritation might not be limited to the point of contact. Additionally, allergic contact dermatitis is more individualized than irritant contact dermatitis — not everyone will necessarily be allergic to the same substance you are allergic to. Because workers’ compensation is a no-fault system, however, the fact that your response is individualized will not necessarily defeat your claim.

Other Occupational Skin Diseases

This is a catch-all category that covers relatively uncommon forms of occupational skin disease adding up to a cumulative total of no more than ten percent of all cases of occupational skin disease. These diseases include:

  • Skin cancer;
  • Skin infections;
  • Basal cell carcinoma;
  • Scleroderma;
  • Leukoderma;
  • Onycholysis; and
  • Miliaria

Proving Your Case

In many cases, the most difficult task you will face will be tracing a link between a skin disease and the occupational hazard that produced it. Although this can get tricky, a skilled workers’ compensation lawyer can greatly help in the process of identifying the cause of your condition and proving it with admissible evidence.

Take Decisive Action

If you are suffering from a skin condition that you believe may be work-related, now is no time to hesitate. You need the assistance of an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer immediately. Raleigh workers’ compensation attorney John A. Hedrick has been representing claimants for decades now, and he is Board Certified in workers’ compensation law.

Call us at 919-626-3895, email us at or simply complete our online contact form for a free claim evaluation.

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