Counseling combats hand eczema

June 15, 2011

Brief individual counseling sessions led to significant improvement for physicians and other healthcare professionals suffering from occupational hand eczema, InternalMedicineNews.com reports.

Copenhagen, Denmark - Brief individual counseling sessions led to significant improvement for physicians and other healthcare professionals suffering from occupational hand eczema, InternalMedicineNews.com reports.

University of Copenhagen dermatologist Kristina Sophie Ibler, M.D., presented the results of her Hand Eczema Trial (HET) at the 22nd World Congress of Dermatology, held recently in Seoul, South Korea. She described HET as the first clinical trial of secondary prevention of occupational hand eczema in healthcare workers.

The multicenter, single-blind study involved 253 physicians, nurses and lab technicians with hand eczema of less than a year’s duration. All were assessed at baseline for disease severity, then completed the Dermatology Life Quality Index and a brief questionnaire on their knowledge of skin-protective behavior.

The individual counseling sessions featured a demonstration of proper hand-washing technique and instruction in applying moisturizers containing a fluorescent agent so that investigators could determine whether participants were washing correctly. The sessions stressed the importance of reducing the number of daily hand washings, substituting use of a hand disinfectant whenever possible.

Counselees were instructed to use a perfume-free moisturizer three times during the work day - upon arrival, at lunchtime and just before going home - and before bedtime. Also stressed was consistent wearing of latex gloves (or vinyl, for those with latex allergy), with thin cotton gloves underneath to minimize humidity.

After about five months, participants exhibited significant reductions in their Hand Eczema Severity Index score as well as significant improvements in their quality-of-life scores and self-evaluated disease severity.

Hand eczema is the most common occupational skin disease in Denmark, with an annual incidence of 0.56 cases per 1,000 individuals. Prevalence among healthcare professionals is about 30 percent, Dr. Ibler reported, and the chronic condition often results in frequent sick leave, impaired quality of life and even permanent work disability.