Climate change, human migration, and skin disease: is there a link?

Johannes F. Dayrit, De La Salle Medical and Health Sciences Institute
Audi Sugiharto, Gokila
Sarah J. Coates, University of California, San Francisco
Don Eliseo Lucero-Prisno, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine
Mark Denis D. Davis, Mayo Clinic
Louise K. Andersen, Aleris-Hamlet Private Hospitals


Climate change, exemplified by higher average global temperatures resulting in more frequent extreme weather events, has the potential to significantly impact human migration patterns and health. The consequences of environmental catastrophes further destabilize regions with pre-existing states of conflict due to social, political, and/or economic unrest. Migrants may carry diseases from their place of origin to their destinations and once there may be susceptible to diseases in which they had not been previously exposed to. Skin diseases are among the most commonly observed health conditions observed in migrant populations. To improve awareness among dermatologists of the burden of skin diseases among migrants, the group searched the English language scientific literature to identify articles linking climate change, migration, and skin disease. Skin diseases associated with human migration fall into three major categories: (i) communicable diseases, (ii) noncommunicable diseases, and (iii) environmentally mediated diseases. Adopting comprehensive global strategies to improve the health of migrants requires urgent attention.