Dermatologists Quagmire: The Skin Color Problem

In Education

With the world’s black race population coming close to 30%, it’s a shocking wonder to know that almost half the number of dermatologists say they weren’t properly trained to identify and treat skin conditions on people of color, according to a survey carried nearly a decade ago. This majorly slows down diagnosis time, which sometimes leads to worsening of the disease and condition.

Currently, it’s almost impossible to find black skin condition photos on search engines like Google. This is also the case in medical school as they are taught how to deal with white skin only. Dermatologists say skin conditions don’t appear the same in black skin compared to white, which has been the major cause of many misdiagnoses. While white skin appears purple when affected, black skin appears darker with a reddish hue.

The COVID-19 pandemic has also raised some awareness on this complex issue. With the rising of new symptoms now and then, dermatologists suspect that the lesions on feet in children is a new Corona Virus symptom. COVID toes, as it has been dubbed, appear as purple-colored on the tip of the toes and fingers, and heal without leaving any mark. This strange symptom has become hard to diagnose on people of color as the doctors and dermatologists have no place to reference or even consult.

There are major key characteristics of skin conditions on white skin, such as red or purple patches. On black skin or a different complexion, they do not appear the same. One disease might look completely different when presented on the two skin color types. A well-known dermatologist says it’s quite easy to miss skin condition on black people because it’s harder to recognize the process in darker skin.

As a result, many people of color in the US prefer visiting dermatologists who are blacks as well. It is easier for them to recognize the skin conditions and give a proper diagnosis, and they have a better understanding and expert advice of conditions that range from acne to skin cancer.

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