New research by British dermatologists on occupational contact dermatitis suggests that nickel remains a top cause of workplace skin problems.

The data for the study was from two occupational disease surveillance programs, highlighting cases of occupational contact dermatitis linked to nickel exposure, reported from February 1993 to January 1999.

It was found that up to 12 percent of total estimated cases of occupational contact dermatitis were thought to be due in part to nickel.

Results suggest that nickel hypersensitivity is one of several contributors to occupational contact dermatitis in people with multiple occupational exposures. Coin handling may also be a source of occupational contact dermatitis to nickel.

The highest incidence rates were seen in hairdressers, bar staff, chefs and cooks, retail cash and checkout operators and catering assistants. Other affected jobs were electronic assemblers, nurses, sales assistants, and general assemblers. In hairdressers, nurses, cooks, and beauticians, nickel was usually considered, if relevant, to be only one of several causes of dermatitis.