Saturday, April 04, 2009

Therapists warned to take extra care as eczema incidences rise!

The number of people suffering from eczema has risen dramatically in the UK meaning therapists have to be even more thorough with hygiene and consultations. Between 2001 and 2005 there was a 42% increase in the number of people diagnosed with the condition, a paper published in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine revealed.

The number of prescriptions issued to treat sufferers is believed to have increased by 57% and by 2005 it is estimated 5.7m people in the UK had eczema. With this condition on the rise, Habia has warned that therapists need to be even more conscientious when it comes to carrying out client consultations and cleaning equipment.

Wendy Nixon, health and safety manager for the organisation, said: “Eczema is not contagious but therapists have to take extra care when offering treatments because this condition makes the skin extremely sensitive. They may react quite violently to certain products. Also eczema can also mean the skin is broken more easily meaning there is more exposure to blood and bodily fluids. As they should with any client, all equipment should be thoroughly disinfected after a treatment is finished."

Nixon added that therapists themselves need to be careful they do not develop the conditions themselves. If they already have it they must take precautions to ensure it does not get worse. She said: “Something to highlight is that many therapists are likely to suffer from eczema and because they are continually cleansing, this could develop into occupational dermatitis.

Hairdressers are more likely to suffer from this than beauty therapists but they’re still up there in the top ten of professions to suffer from this skin complaint. I advise them to use a product that doesn’t contain perfume to wash their hands and always, always moisturise their hands afterwards.”

The reason behind this incidence surge is still unclear but most likely to be a down to several contributing factors. Helen Pugsley, a nurse and lecturer at Cardiff University’s School of Dermatology, said: “It’s probably a combination of lifestyle, family history and environment. I wouldn’t say this is a result of an increase in allergies because although eczema makes a person more sensitive to things, it is not a true allergy. Central heating means people are living in very warm homes, which makes skin dry and itchy meaning people will scratch it. Going from a warm house to the cold outside is also not good for the skin.

“There are also thoughts that we are cleaning ourselves too much. Every time you bathe, the skin is stripped of its natural oils and this leads to dryness. Also, if there is a strong family history of the condition people are more likely to have eczema.”

She advised: “People should turn down their central heating and moisturise. It should be a bit like brushing your teeth, once in the morning and again at night. I would say moisturiser is the main treatment.”

by Sara McCorquodale, March 26th 2009

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