oa Current Allergy & Clinical Immunology - Contact dermatitis in the textile industry : allergies in the workplace

Volume 20 Number 1
  • ISSN : 1609-3607



The textile industry provides a workplace where workers are prone to develop occupational skin diseases (OSDs), commonly manifesting as irritant contact dermatitis (ICD) and allergic contact dermatitis (ACD). Since these are compensatable diseases, it is vital that the attending health care worker understands the processes involved in the long and complex textile production chain, in order to identify the causative substance.

We present a case of a machinist who has been working in the textile industry for 33 years who had eczema. The standard patch test showed that she was allergic to thiuram mix, cobalt chloride, nickel sulphate and colophony. She had an irritant reaction to wood mix and composite mix.
The textile production chain is long and complex with irritants and allergens found throughout this chain. It starts with producing the fibre (raw material), which is spun and twisted into a yarn. A yarn is then knitted and woven into a fabric (grey fabric). These grey fabrics are then prepared, dyed and finished to become a cloth that is ready to be manufactured into garments. We discuss the clinical findings in our patient and their relevance to her occupation.
The textile industry has a long and complex production chain which involves using many substances that are either irritants and / or allergens. It is important for a health care worker to know the process and the substances used in order to make the right diagnosis of occupational skin disease.

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