Both types of contact dermatitis are covered by workers comp, but proving they are a direct result of your work can be difficult.
Contact dermatitis is the most common skin disease in the US workforce. In fact, according to the NCBI, it accounts for an estimated 90% of all work-related cases of skin issues. It can be divided into 2 categories: irritant contact dermatitis, which occurs in 80% of cases, and allergic contact dermatitis.
However, if you have developed a skin condition, you must prove that your condition is a direct result of your work environment in order to receive compensation benefits.
Is It Covered?
The issue here is not whether contact dermatitis is covered by workers comp laws – any injury or illness directly resulted from your work is eligible for compensation. However, in order to get contact dermatitis covered, you will have to prove this skin condition is work-related.
In most cases, that involves:
- Proving your workplace exposes you to irritants or allergens that can lead to contact dermatitis
- Showing that the distribution of the condition is consistent with the type of job exposure
- Excluding any other non-occupational exposures that may also lead to the disease
- Showing you did not suffer from this condition before you started working in a specific environment, or at the very least proving the environment made your condition worse.
What Is Contact Dermatitis?
Contact dermatitis is a red rash caused by direct contact with an irritant or the result of an allergic reaction to a certain substance. While it is not contagious, nor life-threatening, it can be very uncomfortable. If the cause is something in your work environment, apart from medical treatment that can ease the discomfort you will also have to stay away from your place of employment for the rash to go away.
There are two main types of contact dermatitis:
- Irritant contact dermatitis – This is the most common type, resulting from a nonallergic skin reaction when a particular substance damages the outer layers of the skin. Irritants can include solvents, bleach, airborne substances (like sawdust), fertilizers, etc.
- Allergic contact dermatitis – occurs when a substance you are allergic to triggers an immune reaction. Usually, it will only affect the area that has made direct contact with the trigger, though it some cases it may be caused by something you ate or ingested, like medication.
Both types of contact dermatitis are covered by workers comp, but proving they are a direct result of your work can be difficult. It will require presenting sufficient evidence that excludes any other scenario, such as something at home causing the condition instead.
And this can take a lot of time, especially if you do not know what sort of substance triggered dermatitis in the first place.
What Can You Do?
First, you should see a doctor when the rash first appears. Through tests, they can get a better sense of what may potentially cause contact dermatitis. Then, you should get in touch with a St. Louis worker’s compensation lawyer for assistance. If it is a work-related condition, you will need additional assistance to prove to your employer and the insurance company that your case is eligible for compensation.