If skin is damaged or irritated, once the damage stops it will, with time, go back to normal. However, if the damage continues before the skin completely heals, eventually the threshold is reached. This is a sub-clinical disease - symptoms are not visible, but the damage is there. Eventually irritant contact dermatitis will reemerge with the cracks, breaks, dry skin, and pain. If repeated irritant contact dermatitis goes untreated, the skin can become a chronic dermatitis problem.
The best barrier to occupational irritant contact dermatitis is healthy skin. Of course, personal protective equipment is important and, to complement that, healthy skin provides a barrier that helps to protect the body against incidental exposure to irritant.