Skin and respiratory ill-health attributed to occupational face mask use

M J Seed, K Fowler, L Byrne, M Carder, S Daniels, I Y K Iskandar, J Feary, D J Gawkrodger, M Van Tongeren

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Face mask use in the workplace has become widespread since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic and has been anecdotally linked to adverse health consequences.

To examine reports of adverse health consequences of occupational face mask use received by The Health and Occupation Research (THOR) network before and after the pandemic onset.

THOR databases were searched to identify all cases of ill-health attributed to ‘face mask’ or similar suspected causative agent between 1 January 2010 and 30 June 2021.

Thirty two cases were identified in total, 18 reported by occupational physicians and 14 by dermatologists. Seventy-five per cent of cases were reported after the pandemic onset and 91% cases were in the health and social care sector. 25 of the 35 (71%) diagnoses were dermatological, the most frequent diagnoses being contact dermatitis (14 cases) and folliculitis/acne (6 cases). Of the seven respiratory diagnoses, four were exacerbation of pre-existing asthma.

There is evidence of an abrupt increase in reports of predominantly dermatological ill-health attributed to occupational face mask use since the start of the pandemic. Respiratory presentations have also occurred.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)339-342
JournalOccupational Medicine
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 11 Jun 2022


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