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Hairdressing might not appear to be one of the most dangerous occupations out there, but you’d be surprised at how many injuries can be inflicted during the process of helping you look beautiful. While cuts from scissors and burns from heat-treatment devices can occur, a far more common injury comes as a result of exposure to the shampoos, conditioners, dyes and other treatments that hairdressers use on a daily basis.

Dermatitis is an inflammation of the skin, sometimes referred to as eczema, and is characterised by itchy, sore or weeping patches of skin. These can sometimes come in the form of patches of dry skin, or as a rash. Symptoms include redness, swelling, itching, dryness, crusting, flaking, blistering and sometimes bleeding. The severity of dermatitis can range from a small patch of uncomfortable skin, to the whole body being affected. Dermatitis is caused by the skin reacting to allergens or irritants within the chemicals to which it has been exposed.

How to avoid dermatitis

Whether or not your skin is already sensitised to certain chemicals, or even if you have proved that you are allergic to certain products, the best way to avoid developing dermatitis is through the use of protective gloves and procedures to maximise hand safety.


Wearing disposable, non-latex gloves while rinsing, shampooing, colouring and bleaching will reduce the exposure of your skin to the potentially dangerous chemicals within the products. Some hairdressers complain that wearing gloves increases the risk of hair snagging on the glove, but now smoother gloves are available that are less likely to do so, and will significantly reduce the risk of developing dermatitis. To avoid water running down your arms, choose a longer glove and fold back the cuff, and always make sure to wear gloves when cleaning up any spills.

Always remember to change your gloves between different clients.

Dry your hands

Leaving hands wet after washing, or working for long periods of time with wet hands can be a common cause of dermatitis; make sure that you dry your hands thoroughly after washing them.


While barrier creams are limited in their ability to protect throughout the day and should not be used as a replacement for gloves, the application of moisturising creams can help the skin to maintain its own protective qualities. By maintaining a healthy policy of protection, cleanliness with thorough drying, and suitable moisturising, most cases of dermatitis can be avoided.

What if I have developed dermatitis?

If you or someone you care for has suffered as a result of developing dermatitis through work, it’s possible you could be entitled to make a claim for compensation. Employers have a duty to protect the health and safety of their workforce and ensuring that their skin is suitably protected while performing their duties is a part of that duty. Contact one of our highly experienced solicitors today to find out how we can help you get the compensation you deserve.