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Musicians at Risk for Common Skin Condition

Posted: March 29, 2012

Information presented at American Academy of Dermatology’s 70th Annual Meeting by Anthony F. Fransway, MD, FAAD, of Ft. Myers, FL.

Whether your clients play a musical instrument in your school band, as a weekend hobby, or as a professional, you may be at risk for a common skin condition. Contact dermatitis is characterized by a rash that can occur anywhere on the body (typically the hands and face in musicians) and is caused by something that comes into contact with the skin, which makes the skin become red, scaly and inflamed. Contact dermatitis can be caused by an irritant or an allergy. While metals, skin care products and cosmetics are common culprits for allergic contact dermatitis, musical instruments pose a potential hazard due to some of the components of the instruments that come into contact with the skin.

Hazard by instrument

Brass instruments (flute, trombone, trumpet, tuba)

Woodwind instruments (bassoon, clarinet, oboe, saxophone)

Treating contact dermatitis

To determine whether the contact dermatitis is due to an irritant or an allergy, it is important for musicians to see a dermatologist for proper evaluation and treatment.

Whether the dermatitis is caused by an irritant or an allergy, Fransway recommends refraining from playing the instrument while the skin heals. A dermatologist can perform patch testing to identify the cause of the dermatitis. Once the cause is known, the dermatologist can help the musician determine what changes should be made in order to return to playing the instrument.