Dermatitis (eczema)

dermatitis, eczema

Dermatitis (also called eczema) is a skin condition which is common among farmers.  It is very uncomfortable and can be caused by contact with a range of things on the farm including:

  • Farm chemicals
  • Solvents and cleaners
  • Disinfectants
  • Pesticides & fertilisers
  • Plants
  • Dust

Dermatitis symptoms include dry, red, scaly, swollen and itchy skin. Sometimes the skin can crack, blister and weep.


  • Replace normal soap with a soap free cleanser like sorbolene and use sparingly.
  • Have lukewarm, rather than hot showers or baths. as heat exacerbates the itch.
  • Avoid perfumes or scented moisturisers
  • Wear soft, preferably cotton clothes

See your doctor if it doesn’t clear up in a few weeks


  • Wear gloves with cotton liners whenever possible, especially when handling chemicals. Click here to visit our Safety Shop.
  • Use unperfumed moisturisers regularly to prevent dry skin (keep tubs or tubes  near hand washing areas)
Eczema (atopic dermatitis) is an inherited, chronic skin condition that usually appears in early childhood. Patches of skin become red, dry and itchy and may weep. Eczema is not contagious. There is no cure, but it can be managed. Treatment may include moisturisers, corticosteroids, different creams and ointments, coal tar and ultraviolet radiation therapy (phototherapy).
Find out more about this topic on Better Health Channel

References used for this topic page

More information:

National Eczema Association
National Eczema Association (US)
New Zealand Dermatological Society Incorporated
Research & reviews:

Fast facts:

Dermatitis (eczema)

  • Dermatitis is an uncomfortable, itchy skin condition which is common among farmers.
  • Use gloves when handling chemicals, cleaners and fertilisers whenever possible to prevent eczema.
  • Avoid dry skin – use perfume free moisturisers, avoid harsh soaps and wash with lukewarm, rather than hot water.

Last updated: 28th November, 2016