Treating Skin of Color Patients

Dear Derm Authority: What are the more common complaints or maladies that you see in skin of color patients and what resources do you recommend for new practitioners who want expand their understanding of them?

The US population is growing and evolving and the clinical profile of the average patient presenting to the dermatologist is changing. One in three Americans self-identify as member of a non-caucasian racial or ethnic group. It is projected that by 2020, individuals of non-Caucasian, multi-racial descent will comprise more than 50% of the population.

Skin of Color/Global Skin patients come in for some of the most common conditions such as acne, eczema, and frequently complain of hyper-pigmentation/discoloration. It should be stressed that in skin of color photo-protection and skin cancer awareness is low. It is critical for these patients to protect their skin and realize they too can be subject to skin cancer and photodamage.   Uniform skin with even skin tone requires knowledThere is ge and understanding of what treatment regimen and laser protocols are best for this skin type. You must understand the skin type in order to choose appropriate treatments. Respecting the patients cultural background and goals is also critical in this group. I always have a detailed discussion of patient goals and objectives. Post-inflammatory hyper and hypo-pigmentation may be seen more frequently in this group. 

I recommend speaking with colleagues who have experience in treating skin of color and attending educational courses at the AAD and ASDS to learn more on how to treat skin of color patients most effectively.   Another great resource is the Skin of Color Seminar Series (SOCSS). It is the largest CE event dedicated to trending evidence-based research and new practical pearls for treating the dermatology needs of today’s skin of color patients.   For more information visit their website here.  

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