Safety & HCM Post

Take Care of Your Skin


Imagine a marathon runner, a cyclist or a swimmer the day after the big race and you’ll probably think of sore muscles and fatigue. But rarely do we hear about skin problems, which are very common. Even tough guys need to baby their skin. In fact, workers in nearly every industry can learn from the athlete’s skin care regimen.

Blisters can trip up the most dedicated marathon runner or sideline the most agile basketball player. They’re a problem in the workplace, too. Some surveys suggest that two-thirds of workers have foot problems. And anything that causes discomfort sets up a worker to be less alert and not as mindful of safety as usual.

Any of these factors increase the risk of blisters:

  • heat
  • moisture
  • shoes that don’t fit

To avoid blisters, athletes lubricate their feet with:

  • petroleum jelly
  • lotions

Keep feet dry and cool with:

  • antiperspirant
  • drying powders

Decrease friction by wearing:

  • shoes that fit
  • clean moisture-absorbing synthetic socks

Skin that is exposed to heat or that experiences constant friction or pressure may develop acne mechanica, a form of acne. For example, football players may develop acne mechanica from their shoulder pads.

Acne mechanica may develop on skin covered by:

  • tight uniforms
  • headbands
  • belts or straps
  • face masks

To avoid acne mechanica:

  • wear moisture-absorbing clothing beneath gear
  • shower immediately after removing gear

Swimmers sometimes experience allergic reactions to the rubber components of earplugs, bathing caps or goggles. That’s a familiar condition for coal miners, agriculture workers and those in the healthcare industry. Workers in numerous industries are afflicted with red, itchy blisters when they come in contact with an allergenic substance. Over time, the substance wears down the skin’s protective outer layer. This condition is known as allergic contact dermatitis.

Some contributing culprits are:

  • hot workplaces
  • dry air
  • friction against the skin

To care for allergic contact dermatitis:

  • avoid contact with the allergen (determined by a patch test)
  • apply ice or soak in cold water
  • apply anti-itch lotion or spray
  • keep affected area clean

Allergic reactions to rubber components is a familiar condition for coal miners, agriculture workers and those in the healthcare industry.

Smart athletes understand the health risks of their sport and the protections and procedures necessary to guard against them. Learn to recognize and immediately address any signs of skin irritation.

Bongarde Editorial

Bongarde Editorial

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