Better education for healthcare workers about treatment for dermatitis and the risk it poses for growth of bacteria on the skin is needed, according to the new guideline developed by the NHS Plus-funded Occupational Health Clinical Effectiveness Unit (OHCEU).
A review of research evidence, which focused mainly on healthcare workers, was undertaken by a multidisciplinary Guideline Development Group (GDG).
The group set out to assess the risk of bacterial growth on skin with dermatitis, the risk of infections being transmitted from affected skin, and the necessary interventions needed to improve skin condition. Some of the recommendations apply to workers with dermatitis in workplaces outside of healthcare.
The group found a broad consistency within a small body of direct and indirect evidence, indicating that bacteria and other micro-organisms are more likely to be present on skin that is affected by dermatitis than on normal skin.
The guideline recommends that clinicians should advise healthcare workers with dermatitis of these risks, which are higher with more acute and more severe lesions.
Commenting on the new guideline, Dr Sian Williams, Clinical Director of the OHCEU, said:
"This guideline provides much needed practical advice on how to manage healthcare workers with dermatitis. In particular the guideline recommends that managers and occupational health professionals encourage early treatment for staff with hand dermatitis, and gives examples of when healthcare staff with dermatitis might need to be moved away from clinical work.
"The guideline also shows that the provision of skin care programmes by employers can help dermatitis to heal. Such programmes can include simple measures like the provision of hand cream in the workplace and education on hands washing and drying techniques."
"I am Head of OH in a West Wales NHS Trust and am currently analysing the data following a trial to consider if education can improve HCW skin condition, and the role of different skincare products. I welcome the above advice, most of the literature I was able to locate was European, especially German, so there is need for more UK based research" - Vanessa Davies