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Occupational acne
Other Resources UpToDate PubMed

Occupational acne

Contributors: Vanessa T. Tan MBA, Jeffrey Globerson DO, Susan Burgin MD
Other Resources UpToDate PubMed


Occupational acne is a relatively common dermatological disorder that arises from work-related conditions, primarily in the industrial and mechanical trade fields. The disorder arises when workers are in direct physical contact with the compounds utilized in these fields. These compounds include halogenated polycyclic hydrocarbons, insoluble cutting oils, and coal tar derivatives. Individuals in the chemical and agricultural industries are also susceptible to obtaining this disorder due to their exposure to similar compounds, such as chlorophenols, pesticides, and wood preservatives. Men are more commonly affected by this condition as they represent a higher percentage of this workforce.

Subtypes of this disorder are dependent on the offending agent and include acne mechanica, chloracne (caused by, eg, Agent Orange, dioxins), oil acne, and coal tar acne.

Exposure to the offending agent results in follicular obstruction, with subsequent development of acneiform lesions. Comedones often predominate. Areas that are covered by clothing can also be affected, such as when oils or coal tar seep through clothing.

An individual's body mass index (BMI) and body fat mass are reported to be predisposing factors to acquiring the disorder.

Related topics: acne mechanica, chloracne, pomade acne


L70.8 – Other acne

201220003 – Occupational acne

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Differential Diagnosis & Pitfalls

  • Acne vulgaris
  • Acne conglobata
  • Cosmetic-induced acne
  • Folliculitis due to bacteria, Pityrosporum folliculitis, herpes simplex virus (HSV), or Demodex folliculitis
  • Ofuji disease
  • Epidermoid cyst
  • Milia
  • Rosacea
  • Perioral dermatitis
  • Lupus miliaris disseminatus faciei

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Last Updated:09/12/2021
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Occupational acne
A medical illustration showing key findings of Occupational acne
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