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Abstract

Background

Skin conditions are common among Latino migrant farm workers. Although many skin conditions are related to occupational exposures, poor housing conditions may also contribute to skin ailments in migrant farm workers.

Objectives

To evaluate the association between housing conditions and skin conditions among Latino migrant farm workers.

Materials and methods

A cross-sectional study design using interview questionnaires, home inspections, and environmental sampling was implemented to document housing quality of farm worker camps/homes and the prevalence of self-reported skin conditions in Latino migrant farm workers. Interviews were completed with 371 farm workers residing in 186 of the 226 camps (camp response rate 82.3%).

Results

Self-reported pruritus (31%), rash (25%), scaling (12%), blisters (11%), and ingrown nails (10%) were common among the participants. Pruritus was more likely to be reported by farm workers living in dwellings without air-conditioning (P < 0.05). Rash was associated with dwellings reported to have a low humidity (P < 0.05). Scaling was more likely to be reported by farm workers living in dwellings with indoor temperatures in the thermal discomfort range (P < 0.05). No statistically significant associations were detected for indoor allergens and self-reported skin ailments among migrant farm workers.

Conclusions

Skin conditions are common among migrant farm workers in North Carolina. The quality of housing conditions, particularly hot, dry indoor thermal environment, demonstrated significant associations with pruritus, rash, and scaling. The impact of housing characteristics on pruritus and blisters was greatest in new migrant farm workers. Further research is needed to delineate additional housing factors that could cause or exacerbate skin diseases in farm workers.