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Importance of a Skin of Color Dermatologist

by in Dermatology August 3, 2022

If you are a person of color, you should absolutely be seeing a skin of color dermatologist. These dermatologists are specially trained to identify skin conditions on skin of color. They also have the knowledge and experience to treat common skin issues that affect people of color. Here’s what you need to know about a skin of color dermatologist near me.

What is a Skin of Color Dermatologist?

Skin conditions and skin symptoms caused by medical conditions look different on people of different races. For example, a rash will appear much differently on light skin than it does on darker complexions.

Unfortunately, many physicians are only trained to identify dermatological issues on light complexions. So, non-white patients are often undiagnosed or misdiagnosed. This means they miss out on crucial and time sensitive treatment.

Additionally, there is a significant lack of awareness about skin diseases that predominately affect people of color and the way cosmetic procedures should be performed on skin of color to avoid adverse effects.

So, enter skin of color dermatologists near me. These dermatologists focus on training and treatment for diverse complexions of Black, Asian, and Latino patients.

Diverse Care for Diverse Skin

Truthfully, medical textbooks largely feature images of disease only on white skin. This means that most physicians do not recognize conditions on skin of color. So, even common conditions like psoriasis can go undetected on skin of color. For example, psoriasis on white skin features pink or red scaly patches. On skin of color, it can appear purple or gray.

Another example is alopecia, or hair loss. It is one of the most common dermatological diagnoses for Black patients. However, central centrifugal cicatricial alopecia, which nearly exclusively impacts Black women, is often misdiagnoses as female pattern hair loss (a much less damaging condition). CCCA can be treated as long as a provider catches it early. However, it causes irreversible hair loss if left untreated. This is yet another example of why correct and timely diagnosis and treatment is crucial.

Moreover, providers may overlook serious conditions because they aren’t trained to identify them on darker complexions. Consequently, the patient’s health can suffer greatly. Specifically, mycosis fungoides, the most common form of lymphoma (cancer) is more common in skin of color. But, in Black patients the condition typically goes undetected longer, meaning they are less likely to survive the disease. Simply put, a dermatologist needs to be able to recognize signs and symptoms on skin of color.

Skin Cancer Screenings skin of color dermatologist near me

Since Black people are less likely to develop skin cancer than other populations, they may be screened less often, and with less scrutiny. But Black and Latino patients are at a higher risk of acral melanoma, a skin cancer on the hands and feet that isn’t necessarily caused by sun exposure.

Infrequent screenings, paired with a lack of awareness regarding the risk of skin cancer means that patients of color get diagnoses later, when the prognosis is usually worse. To offset this risk, patients should have regular skin checks which thoroughly check the palms of the hands and bottoms of the feet.

Taking Care with Cosmetic Procedures

While cosmetic procedures have gained wild popularity, many can have adverse effects on skin of color. Indeed, melanin rich skin is more likely to scar or darken after being inflamed by procedures. This includes laser facials, hair removal, chemical peels and more. On the other hand, these treatments are safe and appropriate for skin of color when performed with the right equipment and proper technique.

Moreover, even simple procedures like skin tag or mole removal carry a risk of side effects for pigmented skin. A skin of color dermatologist understands these risks and will offer alternative treatment options that have better outcomes.

Helping Diverse Hair

Roughly 3% of the dermatologists in the United States is Black. The field in general lacks an understanding of cultural difference in caring for people of color. One prevalent area of concern for Black women is hair.

For instance, even a simple dandruff treatment can fail when physicians make insensitive prescriptions. Truthfully, you can treat dandruff with a simple shampoo. But telling a Black woman to use a dandruff shampoo three times a week isn’t helpful. In fact, she likely won’t use it all because the majority of Black women only wash their hair about once a week.

Physicians need to understand the cultural complexities and nuances of ethnic skin and hair to prevent patients from immediately losing confidence in them.

Skin of Color Dermatologist Near Me

Skin of color deserves the same quality of treatment and care. We are proud to offer than here at Reston Dermatology and Cosmetic Center. To learn more about a skin of color dermatologist near me, please contact us today.

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