If you suffer from eczema or any other long-term skin condition, it is likely that it will affect your working life to some extent or other. If you’re confused and anxious about what you can do about it, then here's the part one of our special Working With Skin Conditions feature.
How might your chronic skin condition affect your work?
- The need to avoid irritant triggers which are part of your working environment
- The need for regular breaks to apply emollients
- The need to take time off during a bad flare
- The need to take time off to maintain good mental health
- The need to take time off for frequent doctor’s appointments
- The effect on your ability to complete tasks if hands or feet are flaring up and painful (ie writing, physical work)
- The effect on your self-confidence
- The effect on your (perceived) ability to do the job, especially if public-facing
- The effect on your energy levels (exhaustion is common as your body battles flare-ups)
- Co-workers assumptions (eg about infection or contagiousness)
- The public’s or clients’ reactions getting in the way of your ability to do your work
What can you do to make things easier
- Tell your employers about your particular needs as soon as possible
- Give your co-workers the facts about your skin condition
- Ask clearly for help when you need it
- Identify and avoid triggers, including things like cleaning materials, work wear and industrial substances
- Request to clean your own workstation or wash your own workwear
- Wear hypoallergenic gloves underneath work gloves
- Bring your medication to work with you and apply emollients frequently
- Rinse off soaps or cleansers thoroughly with lukewarm (not hot) water and moisturise immediately afterwards each time you wash
- Regulate your temperature: ask not to be put near a radiator; request a fan on your desk.
- Regulate humidity: if the atmosphere is very dry that can exacerbate problems, so request a humifidier by your desk if necessary
See part 2 of our Employment & Skin Conditions feature for more info about where to find help and advice.