The increasing incidence of dermatitis of the hands has been a matter of concern to the dermatologist for some time. The literature* indicates that the so-called "housewives' eczema" is basically an external irritant dermatitis resulting from the contact with the agents used in the course of housework. Some have suggested that the synthetic detergents may be the etiologic factor.† However, many other known irritants may also be of contributory importance, and these are ammonia water, bleaches, phosphates, abrasive powders, organic solvent of waxes, and polishes, as well as the thermal changes encountered during normal activity.
All of these agents contribute to the production of dermatitis in varying degrees in different patients. Similar eruptions may also be seen in persons engaged in occupations involving "wet work," and the problems encountered in the management of this type of eczematoid reaction are extremely complex. In
GANT JQ. A Clinical Application of a Hydrophilic Ointment Base: A Balanced Emulsion System. AMA Arch Derm. 1955;71(6):688–691. doi:10.1001/archderm.1955.01540300010003
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