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Dermatologists working to improve care for non-white patients

Foot treatment with a laser in clinic
Posted at 12:16 PM, Dec 28, 2022

Skin conditions, like psoriasis and eczema, can look different depending on skin color.

Yet, most dermatologists are trained primarily on white skin.

Research shows most dermatology textbooks are missing images of darker skin.

One study found only 11 percent of photos in the book "Review of Dermatology," showed diverse skin tones. Another study of general medicine textbooks found they showed little skin diversity as well.

D. Jenna Lester started the skin of color program at the University of California, San Francisco to change the trajectory.

"I do believe that every doctor goes out with the intention to do the best they can but there are limitations to what we know based on what educational materials we're exposed to,” Lester said.

She said her work is focused on patients who have been historically excluded from medical care, specifically Black, Hispanic, Indigenous, and Asian patients.

"I started the program to create a dermatologic home for these patients where they feel comfortable, where they know that expertise is being paid to their specific concerns,” Lester said.

She says this isn't the first time this issue has been raised.

The Skin of Color Society was established years ago to promote awareness of skin color in dermatology. She urges patients who have experienced barriers to care to visit their website.

You'll find a list of doctors focused on specific needs.