Identification of skin signs in human-trafficking survivors

Photograph of an example of a tattoo on a human trafficking survivor
Elsevier, International Journal of Women's Dermatology, Volume 7, December 2021
Rambhatla R., Jamgochian M., Ricco C., Shah R., Ghani H., Silence C. et al.
Human-trafficking survivors suffer significant physical, mental, and social health consequences, prompting them to seek health care services. Although there is research regarding identification protocols for human-trafficking victims, there is no framework outlining the dermatologic patterns of survivors of human trafficking. We sought to identify the dermatologic signs reported in human-trafficking victims to create a framework for dermatologists and the broader medical community to appropriately screen patients at risk. After screening 577 pertinent records in the PubMed and Google Scholar databases for information about the physical signs of human trafficking in health care, 10 final studies were selected. Significant findings of rashes and brandings, such as tattoos, were more likely in sex-trafficked patients, whereas burns, injuries, and deep cuts were more likely to be found in labor-trafficked patients. This review outlines important identification guidelines that dermatologists and the broader medical community can use to recognize victims and take appropriate action while also raising awareness of human trafficking as an emerging public health issue.