Dermatologist-diagnosed skin diseases among immigrant Latino poultry processors and other manual workers in North Carolina, USA

Int J Dermatol. 2013 Nov;52(11):1342-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-4632.2012.05580.x. Epub 2013 Mar 3.


Background: Immigrant Latino workers represent an expanding workforce in rural areas of the USA, where their employment is concentrated in occupations such as poultry processing that entail chemical, infectious, and mechanical skin exposures. Occupation-related skin illnesses in this vulnerable population are not well characterized.

Objectives: This study was designed to describe the prevalences of skin diseases among immigrant Latino poultry processors and other manual workers in North Carolina.

Methods: Community-based sampling was used to recruit 742 immigrant Latino workers, 518 of whom underwent a physical examination supervised by a board-certified dermatologist. The presence or absence of skin disease on the face, neck, arms, hands, and feet was recorded.

Results: Workers ranged in age from 18 years to 68 years. Slightly over half of the sample were male (52.6%). Poultry workers represented 55.8% of the study sample. Infectious skin diseases were the most common diagnosis, present in 52.3% of workers. Inflammatory skin diseases were present in 28.2% and pigmentary disorders in 21.8% of workers. The most common skin conditions were tinea pedis (37.6%), onychomycosis (31.9%), scars (13.7%), acne (11.8%), and melasma (9.3%). Age, sex, first language, and work as a poultry processor accounted in part for the prevalence of these diseases.

Conclusions: Several skin diseases are highly prevalent in immigrant Latino workers and may relate to work environment. These may impair the quality of life of these workers and predispose them to further illness.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Animals
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Dermatology
  • Emigration and Immigration
  • Female
  • Hispanic or Latino*
  • Humans
  • Latin America / ethnology
  • Male
  • Meat-Packing Industry*
  • Middle Aged
  • North Carolina / epidemiology
  • Occupational Diseases / diagnosis
  • Occupational Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Poultry
  • Prevalence
  • Skin Diseases / diagnosis
  • Skin Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Young Adult