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Skin Care and Diseases

Cement poisoning

01/06/2005

Question:

My husband is in the masonary field and has cement poisoning all over his hands. What is the best type of over the counter medication he can and should use?

Answer:

The only over-the-counter preparation that might diminish your husband's inflammation is Hydrocortisone 1% ointment and it should be used frequently.  I would also encourage him to use non-irritating cleansers such as Cetaphil waterless cleaner to help him remove the materials from his hands.

Having said the above, it is very likely that your husband is sensitive to a number of ingredients in cement, but particularly chromate salts.  It is also likely that the material is quite irritating to his skin.  If he must continue this profession, he needs to learn to protect himself very well.  He needs to use barrier creams on his hands after applying his Hydrocortisone 1% ointment.  I would suggest a barrier cream such as Kerodex 71, inexpensive but effective.  He should then use absorbant gloves that are inexpensive over his hands and then put them into water protective gloves.  These can be neoprene which can take the trauma of manual labor, and those should in turn be inside of other canvas/leather work gloves to further protect his hands. 

Your husband might wish to see an occupational dermatologist for further counseling on further prevention of his problem, and suggestions that might make his work place less toxic.  There are a number of prominent divisions in departments of dermatology in private practices in Cincinnati and Cleveland.

Good luck!

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Response by:

Charles L Heaton, MD
Professor
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati