Use of aromatherapy products and increased risk of hand dermatitis in massage therapists

Glen H Crawford, Kenneth A Katz, Elliot Ellis, William D James
Archives of Dermatology 2004, 140 (8): 991-6

OBJECTIVES: To determine the 12-month prevalence of hand dermatitis among massage therapists, to investigate a potential association between hand dermatitis and the use of aromatherapy products, and to study potential associations with other known risk factors for hand dermatitis.

DESIGN: Mailed survey.

SETTING: Philadelphia, Pa.

PARTICIPANTS: Members of a national massage therapy organization who live in the greater Philadelphia region.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Self-reported and symptom-based prevalences of hand dermatitis.

RESULTS: The number of respondents was 350 (57%). The 12-month prevalence of hand dermatitis in subjects was 15% by self-reported criteria and 23% by a symptom-based method. In multivariate analysis, statistically significant independent risk factors for self-reported hand dermatitis included use of aromatherapy products in massage oils, lotions, or creams (odds ratio, 3.27; 95% confidence interval, 1.53-7.02; P =.002) and history of atopic dermatitis (odds ratio, 8.06; 95% confidence interval, 3.39-19.17; P<.001).

CONCLUSIONS: The prevalence of hand dermatitis in massage therapists is high. Significant independent risk factors include use of aromatherapy products in massage oils, creams, or lotions and history of atopic dermatitis.

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