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L. Chatzi, A. Alegakis, S. Krüger, C. Lionis.Faculty of Medicine, University of Crete, Heraklion, Greece

Introduction: Agricultural workers are at high risk of developing occupational skin disease, because they are exposed to many and different skin irritants and allergens. Grape farmers in Crete were found to have a high prevalence of allergic rhinitis and work related respiratory symptoms compared to controls and an increased allergic sensitization to specific pollens. The aim of this study was to measure the prevalence of self-reported skin symptoms and work related skin symptoms among the same group of grape farmers, to test the hypothesis that this occupational group is at increased risk of reporting skin symptoms compared to non-exposed controls, and to provide data on associated risk factors.

Methods: A cross sectional study was carried out in Malevisi region in Northern Crete. One hundred and twenty grape farmers and 100 controls (tourism employees) were examined. The protocol comprised a questionnaire, skin prick tests for 16 common allergens, and measurement of specific IgE antibodies against eight allergens. Associations among skin symptoms, sensitisation to different allergens, and grape farming characteristics were analysed by logistic regression modeling.

Results: Self-reported itchy rash (OR 2.4; 95% CI 1.1 to 4.9, p<0.05) within the last 12 months, and work related itchy rash (OR 4.2; 95% CI 1.1 to 20.7, p<0.05) were significantly higher in grape farmers than in controls, after adjusting for age. Pollens were the most common group of allergens among grape farmers with skin symptoms. Sensitisation to pollens (OR 3.7; 95% CI 1.3 to 10.2, p<0.01) and allergic rhinitis (OR 3.0; 95% CI 1.2 to 7.6, p<0.05) were found to be significantly associated with self-reported itchy rash in the grape farmers group. Work related itchy rash was significantly associated with sensitis ation to pollens (OR 4.3; 95% CI …

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