Diagnosed Skin Diseases Among Migrant Farmworkers in North Carolina: Prevalence and Risk Factors

Journal of Agricultural Safety and Health
  • Arcury, Thomas;
  • Quandt, Sara;
  • Davis, Steven F.;
  • Feldman, Steven R.;
  • Fleischer, Jr., Alan B.;
  • Preisser, John S.;
  • Rapp, Stephen R.;
  • Schulz, Mark R.;
  • Vallejos, Quirina M.;
  • Verma, Amit


Skin diseases are common among farmworkers, yet little research documents their prevalence and risk factors. This analysis documents the prevalence of skin diseases among farmworkers in North Carolina, examines variation in the prevalence across the agricultural season, and delineates factors associated with skin disease. Data are from a longitudinal surveillance study with assessments at approximately three-week intervals from May through October 2005. The sample included 304 farmworkers from 45 camps with 1048 data points. Data collection included a structured interview and a standard set of ten digital photographs. A board-certified dermatologist reviewed the photographs and made specific diagnoses in five categories: inflammatory disease, infection, pigmentary disorder, tumor, and trauma. The prevalences of the five skin disease categories and specific diagnoses are described with counts and frequencies for the entire season and for six time periods. The inflammatory disease and infectious disease categories are modeled with an extension of logistic regression that accounts for repeated measures and clustering of farmworkers within camps. Farmworkers experience high levels of inflammatory skin disease (57.2%) including acne, folliculitis, and contact dermatitis; infectious skin disease (73.8%) including tinea pedis, onychomycosis, and warts; pigmentary disorders (19.1%); and trauma (34.5%). The odds of inflammatory skin disease decreased with age, while those for infectious skin disease increased with age. The odds of inflammatory skin disease increased with pesticide exposure and decreasing housing quality. Skin diseases are highly prevalent among farmworkers. Research is needed to delineate specific factors causing high levels of infection and inflammation in this population.

Full article can be found in: Journal of Agricultural Safety and Health
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