BACKGROUND: Skin diseases are very common among people living in poor countries. Although many of these pathologies might not be fatal, some can have a great impact on the patient, impairing their ability to work or worsening his/her relationship with the community. Understanding the epidemiology of skin diseases in these areas, determining the prevalence of different disorders, is fundamental to develop better educational and preventative programs.
METHODS: We collected data from 467 consecutive patients referring to the Dermatology Center of the Axum Referral Hospital (Tigray region, Ethiopia). We investigated health status and environmental data. Diagnoses were classified into 6 groups (i.e. infectious, inflammatory, etc.). A statistical analysis was performed using IBM SPSSTM software version 25.0.1 (IBM SPSS Inc. Chicago, Illinois) and StataTM software release 14.2 (Stata Corporation, College Station, Texas). Normality of the distributions was assessed using the Kolmogorov-Smirnov test. Categorical variables are compared with the use of the Chi Square test or the Fisher's exact test, as appropriate.
RESULTS: Inflammatory and infectious diseases were the most frequently observed. No significant differences in inferential tests between access to water, housing, education level, and any diagnoses group were found. Curiously, a statistically significant difference between inflammatory diseases and unemployment was found.
CONCLUSIONS: Easier access to medical care, medications, and clean water, together with a cleaner work and home environment, are the first goals to be achieved in order to decrease morbidity in these areas.