Phytodermatitis

Skin diseases represent the largest group of occupational diseases affecting agricultural workers, who are at the greatest risk for occupational skin disease in the United States, accounting for roughly two thirds of cases. Inedible plant products represent the largest group of causative agents for occupational skin disease among agricultural workers. Identifying and treating skin diseases in agricultural workers presents a difficult situation for the health care provider as the diseases often present similarly; secondary infections or triggers may be present; the causative agents differ in appearance and toxicity greatly on a regional and seasonal basis; and extensive exposure histories may be necessary to determine a likely causative agent (34,35).

While numerous plants can cause skin disease following various routes of contact, from the common household chrysanthemum to wild feverfew, only the most relevant families are presented here. Phytodermatitis can generally be classified by the four groups discussed below: allergic contact dermatitis, irritant contact dermatitis, urticaria, and phytophotodermatitis. For a summary of the various plants and plant families associated with each skin disorder, see Table 26.2 (34-38).

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