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Cutaneous diseases occurring in workers in oil fields, by post hoc ergo propter hoc logic, are frequently ascribed to contact with crude oil. The term "oil poisoning," used frequently by laymen and physicians in oil-producing territory, covers a variety of lesions. To industrial physicians and dermatologists, reference to cutaneous diseases caused by crude petroleum brings up a picture of acne or cancer frequently reported from contact with liquid petrolatum.
A search of the literature and of personal correspondence with medical directors of oil companies and physicians who have practiced for many years in oil-producing regions failed to bring to light any reports on contact dermatitis due to crude petroleum. Two physicians and one dermatologist described conditions they had seen occasionally, which may have been contact dermatoses, but none was sufficiently definite to establish the diagnosis. No cases were seen during fourteen years in a large refinery.
REPORT OF A CASE
ADAMS JM, IRBY FL. CONTACT DERMATITIS DUE TO CRUDE PETROLEUM. Arch Derm Syphilol. 1935;32(4):573–575. doi:10.1001/archderm.1935.01470040030007
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