- Sharon Belmo
Why is dermatology for skin of colour important?
Updated: Aug 20, 2022
When I started my career dermatology in 2011, one of the first things I noticed was that the books, images and medical journals pretty much focused on skin and hair conditions in White skin. There was very little emphasis on darker skin types, which concerned me. Why, in this era, are we still only learning about one ethnic group? Why are people of colour not included? I wondered. I questioned it immediately and started my journey learning about the variations in skin and hair types, whilst embracing all ethnic groups.
Here are a few things I learnt:
Many common skin conditions, like eczema, psoriasis and acne, can present differently in darker skin, for example, they may not look as red or may not even look red at all.
There are certain conditions that are much more commonly seen in darker skin, such as melasma, hyperpigmentation, dermatosis papulosa nigra, pseudofolliculitis barbae (razor bumps) and keloid scars.
There are certain conditions that occur in skin of colour due to the unique and varied cultural habits within different ethnic groups. These include prayer nodules, traction alopecia and skin problems due to skin bleaching.
Afro-textured hair looks different and behaves differently which can increase the risk of hair loss and breakage in comparison to straighter hair.
Black skin tends to be drier than White skin.
These are just a few differences, but they highlight the importance of dermatology being inclusive in its teaching and teachers. I have made it my mission to improve this in UK. Have a look at my skin of colour and about pages for more..