Solvents and Skin

solvent burns on hands

Solvents and Skin

Solvents can have a direct effect on the skin and be absorbed through the skin. Most solvents will dissolve the natural oils in the skin and cause dryness and chapping. Some solvents are also directly irritating to the skin or cause severe skin allergies in some people. Regular or constant immersing or cleaning bare hands with solvents will cause skin dermatitis.

Organic solvents are among the most frequently used substance in industry. Repeated skin contact leads to excessive dehydration of surface keratin and eczema. In this worker, who habitually used an organic solvent for cleansing purposes, the dermatitis appears as scattered, coin shaped concentrated patches, commonly referred to as “nummular” eczema.

Skin absorption of solvents

  • Some liquid solvents will go through the skin into the body.
  • Some of these absorbed solvents can damage internal organs or cause long-term health damage.
  • In some cases, as much of a solvent can enter through the body by skin absorption as by inhalation.
  • Other chemicals dissolved in solvents can also pass through the skin along with the solvent.
  • Gloves and protective clothing are the best protection.

A group of solvents known as “glycol ethers” and certain alcohol solvents are especially absorbable through the skin and cause internal health effects