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Dermal refers to a something used on or applied to the skin.
Transdermal refers to something (such as a medication or drug) being delivered through the skin. You may be familiar with transdermal nicotine or motion sickness patches which are applied to the skin.
Some chemicals can move through the skin very easily and can carry toxic compounds along with them that would not ordinarily penetrate the skin by themselves. One such example is dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO), a common industrial solvent. Always use extreme care around liquids and wear proper gloves for the solvents you are working with.
Many chemicals can cause conditions such as dermatitis when they contact the skin. These effects can by chronic or acute depending on the nature of the chemical and the exposure. See our entry on cutaneous for additional information.
"Dermal" is commonly found in Section 11 (toxicological information) of a Safety Data Sheet, in reference to the effects of skin exposure. Therefore, be sure to use proper skin protection such as gloves or an apron; this information should be found in Section 8 (exposure controls/personal protection) of the SDS. The term is also commonly used in Section 4 (first-aid measures).
The skin is the largest organ of your body. If your body is splashed with a hazardous chemical, it is important to immediately rinse it off, removing affected clothing if necessary. Your workplace should have either drench hoses or an emergency safety shower if you are working with chemicals that can damage the skin. Ideally, the shower should have a privacy curtain but if yours does not, it's no time to be shy about disrobing. This is especially true for corrosives such as acids and bases or chemicals which readily penetrate the skin such as hydrofluoric acid and phenols. For example, multiple people have died after a single skin exposure to 2,4-dichlorophenol, several of whom were reluctant to use the nearest shower or disrobe.
Encourage your workers to wear their gloves with stylish safety dispensers from Safety Emporium.
See also: cutaneous, dermal toxicity, dermatitis, PPE.
Additional definitions from Google and OneLook.
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