Wake Forest University School of Medicine (Winston-Salem, NC) studies of Hispanic farmworkers in North Carolina found that more than three out of four workers had skin disease and that workers need more information about how to prevent both common skin conditions and potentially deadly diseases such as skin cancer.
In one Wake Forest study, whose results are reported in the May issue of the Journal of Agricultural Safety and Health, 59 farmworkers from Nash and Johnston Counties were examined by a dermatologist with the goal of estimating the prevalence and predictors of skin disease. The results showed that all five female workers had skin disease, and 78% of the 54 men did. For men, the most common diagnoses were nail fungus, foot fungus, and acne. Among the women, diagnoses included excessively dry skin, foot fungus, and acne.
A second study, whose results are reported in the April issue of the American Journal of Industrial Medicine, involved in-depth interviews with 30 farmworkers across the state to determine their beliefs and perceptions about occupational skin disease. The researchers found that few workers mentioned skin cancer as a potential health problem, yet exposure to sunlight is a major risk factor for the disease. The interviews also revealed a common belief among workers: Each individual’s personal susceptibility determines whether he or she will be affected by a condition.