Contact Dermatitis Legal Claims

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 What Causes Contact Dermatitis?

There are many reasons why contact dermatitis can occur. Some of the common symptoms that happen after skin exposure include:

  • Irritates your skin, causing irritant contact dermatitis;
  • Triggers an allergic reaction, causing allergic contact dermatitis and;
  • Irritant contact dermatitis: When something injures and then irritates your skin, it causes this type of contact dermatitis.

Common irritants that can injure your skin, resulting in irritant contact dermatitis, include:

  • Scented soaps;
  • Certain plants;
  • Fruit juice;
  • Detergents and bleach;
  • Gasoline and diesel oil;
  • Disinfectants;
  • Fertilizers and pesticides and;
  • Chemicals used to remove grease, oils, and cutting fluids.

The list mentioned above provides a snapshot of what can irritate your skin. Keep in mind that this list does not include all of the irritants that can cause your skin to flare up. Under the right circumstances, even water can cause irritant contact dermatitis.

For instance, if you dip your hands in water daily and throughout the day, the water can strip away your skin’s protective barrier. Without this protective barrier, you will end up with injured skin. If you continue to do this, you will eventually develop irritant contact dermatitis.

Additionally, frequent hand washing can result in irritant contact dermatitis. Using mild soaps and fragrance-free cleaners can reduce your risk. Moreover, moisturizing your hand with a fragrance-free hand cream can help.

For allergy reactions, it can be hard to pinpoint the exact cause of contact dermatitis. Generally, it takes time for the rash to develop and appear on your skin. When your skin touches an allergen, it automatically triggers your immune system. A series of events occur inside your body before your skin reacts. Thus, it can take hours or days to develop a rash and symptoms.

People who have a skin condition are at a higher risk of getting contact dermatitis. The skin condition lessens your skin’s ability to protect you from germs and other invaders, making you prone to a greater risk. When your skin can protect you adequately, it becomes easier for something to irritate your skin or trigger an allergic reaction.

What Are the Common Symptoms?

In most cases, a rash develops that can be followed by blisters and more redness. They are skin lesions of an eczematous nature, most commonly on the back, the buttocks, and the back of the arm. There is a specific chemical present in the fabric of a furniture chair that has been tested positive for reactions in all the patients who had furniture-related dermatitis.

Besides this, there were also other methods used to test other types of chemicals that also caused allergic reactions. Additionally, allergens in chemicals were found in other upholstered furniture industries.

Who Is at Higher Risk?

Some people work in certain occupations more prone to getting contact dermatitis. Anyone who dips their hands in water throughout the day or works with harsh chemicals has a higher risk of getting it. Research suggests that some specific jobs and industries pose a higher risk of developing contact dermatitis. Below is a list of some of these occupations:

  • Healthcare employees;
  • Chefs and other food service employees;
  • Construction workers;
  • Cosmetologists;
  • Florists;
  • Machinists;
  • Mechanics;
  • Agricultural workers;
  • Manufacturing and:
  • Natural resources and mining.

It has been recorded that In the United States, contact dermatitis is considered to be one of the most common diseases caused by the workplace. When workers suffer a work-related injury or illness, they cannot sue their employers due to the “sole remedy” provision of workers’ compensation. However, there is another legal option to file your case to find a viable option. For instance, there was a case with the Alaska Airlines flight attendants when they complained that their new uniforms were causing skin rashes and respiratory symptoms.

Proving the causal impact is crucial for these cases to be viable. The employers must show that the contact dermatitis resulting from the uniforms is part of the problem. The compensation for their illness is limited to treatment for the various conditions they complained about under workers’ compensation.

Once the case was filed, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) impacted the outcome. The court ruled heavily on NIOSH’s letter in 2016, and the court found that the flight attendants failed to adequately support their claim that the uniforms caused their problems and should be recalled. “They have not provided sufficient evidence to overcome the NIOSH findings,” the court stated in its decision.

How to Protect Yourself From This?

There are ways to protect yourself from contact dermatitis, especially if you work in the areas mentioned earlier. Contact dermatitis refers to a persistent skin allergy in people who have bought leather sofas, couches, and other upholstered furniture pieces containing dimethyl fumarate (DMF), an anti-molding agent, as stated above.

This can result in eczematous rashes and, in some cases, cause serious chemical burns. Research shows that in most cases, it is linked to the presence of Chinese-made leather furniture treated with an antifungal chemical. Therefore, researching before purchasing furniture can prevent you from getting the commonly referred to as “sofa dermatitis.”

According to the Medical and Life Sciences News, the first case was reported in 2007. Hundreds of people have been diagnosed with this condition thus far, and at least one fatality has been suspected. This epidemic spread to many countries in the EU and to the US and Canada as well. The EU has banned the use of DMF in consumer products.

To provide a brief background on leather furniture, China exports its leather furniture with sachets of the potent antifungal DMF. This is necessary to keep the leather dry and mold-free during transit and storage in humid warehouses. However, DMF is known to evaporate from the sachets, seeping into the leather and transferring onto skin and clothing.

This is a powerful irritant and allergen, producing a type IV (delayed) hypersensitivity reaction. It is known for causing skin ulceration or blistering. Moreover, skin rashes and conjunctivitis have been reported as a result of exposure to DMF.

Additionally, many patients complain that their symptoms are not relieved with cessation of direct exposure after selling or disposing of the treated furniture. Also, this chemical is known to remain in the air and deposit on the furniture. It then penetrates it to reach the skin when someone sits on the sofa, chair, or couch. Some people are more at risk for developing hypersensitivity to DMF. Some items of clothing and footwear are also known to contain DMF sachets.

Be vigilant about this chemical and check to see if any of your products contain it to protect yourself from contracting contact dermatitis. As a supplier of goods and services, you need to ensure that you are scanning your products for this chemical. You need to protect your consumers and your business from liability.

When Do I Need to Contact a Lawyer?

Contact dermatitis is a skin condition that can worsen if not treated completely. You can prevent this from spreading by researching what causes the skin to react this way by becoming a careful consumer. If you have a valid claim against a business that you suspect resulted in you developing contact dermatitis, you can reach out to a local personal injury lawyer to help you with your case. If you need help, reach out immediately to learn more about the risks of contact dermatitis and protect yourself from it.


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