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Hand Dermatitis

Hands suffering from dermatitis are proven to carry large numbers of bacteria which can, in turn, increase the risk of HAI in patients.

This resource is part of the intermediate layer of the Scottish Infection Prevention and Control Education Pathway.  Further information about the pathway is available on the pathway webpage.


Hand dermatitis (also known as hand eczema) is a common condition affecting up to 10% of the general population. Some occupations including those in healthcare are more vulnerable to dermatitis. Good hand care and simple precautions can reduce the risk of developing hand dermatitis. 

NHSScotland have has a strong focus on patient safety and the elimination of avoidable harm.  Good practice in hand hygiene is essential in reducing risk of infection to our patients.  The World Health Organisation (WHO) cites skin irritation as the most common barrier to good hand hygiene technique.

NHS Education for Scotland (NES) has developed the following resources for healthcare staff and those working in social care settings.

  • Pocket book which provides health and social care workers with a better understanding of good hand care and prevention of skin damage. This aids in the understanding of common types of hand dermatitis, how to recognise them and actions to take if you suspect skin damage. Download the pocket guide (pdf)
  • Train the trainer presentation which aims to equip hand surveillance link workers with the knowledge and skills to recognise skin damage to hands which may be associated with work-related substances. It will also help to educate colleagues how to better understand good hand care and prevent skin damage. This training resource was developed to complement hand surveillance skills. Download the presentation (ppt show) and presentation notes pages (pdf)

Resource key content

  • Normal structure and functions of the skin
  • What we can do to keep hands healthy
  • Early warning signs of skin damage
  • Most common types of hand dermatitis
  • Treatment for hand dermatitis
  • Other skin conditions affecting the hands

Target audience

  • Occupational health hand surveillance/link workers
  • Healthcare workers from all service departments including clinical, catering, pharmacy, estates and facilities and secretarial
  • Care Home Managers and Supervisors 

The resouces are available free of charge to all health and social care staff working in Scotland. To request a copy of the resources, please contact


NES are providing health boards, care home and care at home staff with the opportunity to participate in local workshops to help promote nd implement the hand dermatitis resources in practice. The workshops will be held during February, March and April 2015. If you are interested in a workshop please contact


Resources launched February 2015. Due for review 2019.