The Latest from How to Maintain Healthy Skincare at Jobs That Can Irritate Skin

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A job pays the bills, but does a person’s skin pay the price? Here are a list of jobs that can be harmful to skin and how to take precautions for safe, healthy skin.

Work-related skin issues are quite common. Jobs in many fields can cause skin problems, from minor irritation to burns to sun damage. Thankfully, people can easily protect their skin while they’re clocked in and hard at work.'s latest article, “Jobs That Can Irritate Your Skin (and a Slew of Solutions),” offers suggestions custom-made for each job’s skin concerns.
Manufacturers, metal workers, car mechanics

Why these jobs can be harmful to skin:

  •     Burns. People in these industries are often exposed to strong, dangerous, corrosive chemicals and acids. These substances can result in painful burns.
  •     Irritant contact dermatitis. Related to eczema, this condition causes dryness, irritation, chapping, redness, scaling, itching, burning and swelling. Usually, these symptoms occur on the hands from touching an irritating chemical, acid, adhesive or solvent.

How to keep skin safe:

  •     Wear protective clothing.
  •     Keep food and drink away from the work station.
  •     Change into clean clothes as soon the job is done.
  •     Have first aid stations available at work sites.

Cooks and chefs

Why these jobs can be harmful to skin:

  •     Burns. Chefs and cooks have a very high risk for burns, working around stoves and ovens.
  •     Irritant contact dermatitis. Certain foods — like garlic or citrus fruits — contain skin-irritating juices, which can cause redness, itchiness, scaling and swelling of the hands after being handled or chopped.
  •     Acne. Cooking oils and fried food greases are emitted into the air, and skin absorbs them. Oils mix with bacteria and dead skin cells to cause acne, which shows up as red bumps, cysts, whiteheads or blackheads.

How to keep skin safe:

  •     Run burns under cold water for at least 10 minutes. Use first aid cream specifically designed to soothe burns. If blisters develop, don’t pop them, as this may spread infection. However, when a blister pops by itself, dab on antibiotic cream and cover the area with a sterile bandage.
  •     Wash, rinse and dry hands thoroughly after handling food or food juices.
  •     Cleanse face well after work.
  •     Apply acne spot treatments to clear current breakouts and prevent new ones.

Maids, janitors, housekeepers, healthcare workers

Why these jobs can be harmful to skin:

  •     Dryness, irritation and dermatitis. In these fields, people handle many types of cleaners. These often contain harsh chemicals, like detergents to kill germs and remove stains or surfactants to produce sudsy lathers. Such chemicals can irritate hands, causing rash, redness and burning.

In addition, people’s hands are frequently exposed to water. Water exposure actually dries skin out by disrupting skin’s natural barrier, which retains moisture and keeps out irritants. Hot water is particularly drying.

How to keep skin safe:

  •     Wear rubber gloves.
  •     Slather on hand lotions or creams.

Construction workers, landscapers, farmers, outdoor laborers

Why these jobs can be harmful to skin:

  •     Sun exposure. The sun gives off harmful UV rays, posing threats of sunburn, skin aging, dryness and even skin cancer. Melanoma — the deadliest type of skin cancer — is associated with sun exposure acquired at a young age, like in teens with outdoor summer jobs. UV rays dry out skin, causing rough texture and age spots. These rays damage collagen and elastin — components that give skin structure — resulting in lines, wrinkles and sagging skin, according to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD). UV rays are the strongest — and therefore most damaging — between 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m., when many outdoor workers are hard at work.

How to keep skin safe:

  •     Use broad-spectrum sunscreen every day. It protects against both UVA and UVB rays, which are responsible for premature aging, sunburn and skin cancer. Opt for SPF 30, and reapply frequently, especially if sweating has occurred.
  •     Wear long sleeves, pants, a broad-brimmed hat and sunglasses.
  •     Drink eight ounces of water every hour. This helps keep the body hydrated and protects it from overheating.

Waiters, waitresses, retail clerks, cashiers, other workers who stand all day

Why these jobs can be harmful to skin:

  •     Varicose veins. People in these jobs are constantly on their feet, which puts pressure on leg blood vessels and veins. This pressure affects blood flow. Veins weaken and blood pools, forming unattractive blue or purple varicose or spider veins.

How to keep skin safe:

  •     Elevate legs. If possible, people should take breaks at work to get off their feet and relieve the pressure on their veins.
  •     Wear compression stockings.
  •     Apply a topical treatment. Though they won’t eliminate varicose or spider veins, topical treatments can minimize their appearance.
  •     Seek professional procedures. For stubborn, persistent spider or varicose veins, dermatologists offer laser and radiofrequency treatments.


Why this job can be harmful to skin:

  •     Irritant dermatitis. The products and chemicals that make hair look great — like shampoos, dyes, chemicals and perm solutions — can wreak havoc on hairstylists’ hands. Disinfectants and cleaners used on styling tools and throughout the salon are additional culprits. These substances, combined with water exposure, may result in redness, scaling, itching and dry skin.

How to keep skin safe:

  •     Don’t wear rings. Soap, shampoo and other chemical residue can become trapped under rings and irritate skin.
  •     Wear proper gloves when shampooing or using dyes. They’ll protect skin from these chemicals. However, avoid latex gloves, especially those who have latex allergies.
  •     Use moisturizing hand cream often.

Jobs with long hours and high stress levels

Why these jobs can be harmful to skin:

  •     Blemishes and dull skin. Over-workers are typically too busy or stressed to get sufficient sleep, which the body and skin need for repair and renewal. Being stressed and sleep-deprived also makes skin look dull and lackluster.
  •     Dark circles.

How to keep skin safe:

  •     De-stress. Unwind with a soothing bath or shower after a hard day’s work.
  •     Hit the sack. Go to bed earlier to ensure enough sleep
  •     Treat. Reduce puffiness, dark circles and other signs of stress around the eyes with an eye treatment.
  •     Cover up. Pulled an all-nighter or didn’t sleep well? In the morning, reach for concealer to hide dark under-eye circles and other imperfections.


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Bobby Lyons

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