High prevalence of skin symptoms among bakery workers

M. F. C. Steiner, F. D. Dick, A. R. Scaife, S. Semple, P. Paudyal, J. G. Ayres

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Occupational skin disease is common and bakery workers are at increased risk of hand dermatitis.Aims To explore the frequency of, and to identify risk factors for, skin symptoms in a small bakery. Methods: A cross-sectional survey of workers in a small bakery in Scotland, using a self-completed questionnaire regarding skin symptoms over the last 12 months. Additionally, data on self-reported atopy status, glove use and daily hand washing frequencies were obtained. Workers were classed as being at low, medium or high risk of occupational skin disease based on their job titles. Results: The overall response rate was 85% (52 women, 41 men) with a mean age of 41 (range 17-72). Eleven per cent of bakers, confectioners and packers and 31% of cleaners, cooks and food production workers reported at least one skin symptom. Thirty-three per cent of symptomatic low-risk workers, 50% of symptomatic medium-risk workers and 75% of symptomatic high-risk workers stated their symptoms usually improved away from work. While washing hands more frequently than 20 times a day had an increased risk of skin symptoms, this was not significant [OR 3.5 (95% CI 0.9-13.2)]. Conclusions: There was a high prevalence of skin symptoms among these bakery workers which was more than double that previously reported in UK bakeries. Frequent washing of hands as a risk factor for skin symptoms may warrant further investigation in bakery workers. © The Author 2011. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Society of Occupational Medicine. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)280-282
Number of pages3
JournalOccupational Medicine
Issue number4
Early online date11 May 2011
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2011


  • bakery workers
  • dermatitis
  • occupational exposures
  • wet work


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