Background: Farmers are at highest risk of occupational skin diseases. Ideally, the prevention should start at the earliest phase of vocational training. In order to identify risk factors for farm work-related skin diseases, a nationwide study of Polish farming students was carried out in 2001 and 2002.
Study group: 304 random students of 11 agricultural schools consented to participate in the study (participation rate 98%). The schools were at least 100 km from each another. The participants were 160 men and 144 women, aged from 17 - 21 years.
Methods: The examinations included questionnaire, skin prick tests, patch tests, total IgE, farm-animal specific IgE and Phadiatop. For each of 144 variables, odds ratios were calculated (Mantel-Haenszel). Logistic regression model was used for the determination main determining factors.
Results: Work-related dermatoses were identified in 18 of 304 study participants. Contact dermatitis was diagnosed in 10 students, contact urticaria in 4, and both dermatitis and urticaria in remaining 4 students. Main risk factors for work-related dermatitis were: history of atopic dermatitis before entering school (OR=7.64; 95%CI: 1.84-31.72; p=0.005), history of contact dermatitis before entering school (OR=5.20; 1.63-16.59; p=0.005), and history of respiratory allergy before entering school (OR=3.80; 1.21-11.95; p=0.022). Main risk factors for work-related urticaria were: positive skin prick tests to farm allergens (OR = 6.56; 1.52-28.20; p=0.012), history of contact dermatitis before entering school (OR=5.32; 1.21-23.38; p=0.027), and positive Phadiatop test (OR=5.00; 1.17-21.43; p=0.030).
Discussion: 5.9% farming students have developed occupational skin disease before finishing their vocational training. Asking simple questions at the initial health check would be sufficient for identifying students at risk for work-related dermatitis, whereas simple allergy tests would be sufficient for identifying those at risk for work-related urticaria.
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Institute of Dermatology, Krakow, Poland
Instytut Dermatologii w Krakowie
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Document created: 29 August 2006, last updated: 1 September 2007.