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Association between occupation and contact allergy to the fragrance mix: a multifactorial analysis of national surveillance data


OBJECTIVES To assess the role of potential (occupational) risk factors for fragrance contact allergy (FCA). Most studies assessing the range of contact sensitisation in various clinical populations found the fragrance mix, a good screening tool for the detection of FCA in general, to be one of the leading allergens. The role of occupational exposure to fragrances is, however, yet unclear.

METHODS Firstly, crude analyses of the prevalence of FCA in various occupational fields including all 57 779 patients patch tested in the participating centres of the Information Network of Departments of Dermatology (IVDK) between January 1992 and December 1998. Secondly, a multifactorial Poisson regression analysis of these patients, including several potential risk factors.

RESULTS (a) The proportion of patients with FCA varied greatly between different occupational groups from 2.5% to 17.4%, (b) the highest occupational risk of FCA was associated with work as a masseur or physiotherapist, metal furnace operator, potter or glass maker etc, or geriatric nurse, (c) non-occupational factors that influenced risk of FCA included atopy, female sex, several sites, in particular the axillae, and increasing age.

CONCLUSIONS Occupations with a high risk of FCA were identified as targets of preventive action—that is, the substitution of scented products with fragrance free materials with which to work (skin disinfectants, cleaning solutions, personal care products) wherever possible.

  • contact allergy
  • occupational risk factors
  • fragrances

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