Achieving racial equality in skin care

Over the past decade, the average American has witnessed an increase in media that incorporates skin color into everything from television to skincare advertisements.

Those in the field of dermatology such as Karan Lal, MD, FAAD, Schweiger Dermatology Group, have seen similar gradual changes in skin color research.

Past dermatology research and resources have often failed to correctly recognize skin color, but recent trends suggest a belated but welcome shift in these patterns.

“I think the biggest thing that’s happened in our field is the development and creation of manuals for skin of color,” Lal said. “A big gap in dermatology education is that a lot of the textbooks we have (present) patients with white skin and white photographs, and patients who have colored skin, black, brown, whatever color, are not well represented in these manuals. So what does this lead to? It leads to misdiagnosis, it leads to more biopsies, it leads to poor patient outcomes by compared to the white patient population.

In addition to the trend towards more color skin diagnoses in textbooks, Lal also noted that various board reviews have begun to implement color skin photos that prompt dermatologists to learn more about different diseases. and skin color.

Lal is involved in a myriad of diversity programs, including the American Society of Dermatologic Surgery’s Future Leaders Network. The program helps create a program for fellows, residents, and program directors who are responsible for selecting equity diversity and inclusion fellows in the field of dermatology.

As a dual-board certified dermatologist and cosmetic surgeon, Lal has remained one of the few physicians in the United States to hold all 3 degrees. This has led him to be a frequent referral for patients with various skin conditions, some of which had not been correctly diagnosed by previous dermatologists due to a lack of awareness of how these conditions present in the skin. colored skin.

Of course, the issue of inequality is multifactorial. Currently, dermatology is the second least diverse specialty in all of medicine, and although task forces have been created within residency and hospital programs based on diversity, equity and inclusion of all ethnic origins, skin colors and sexualities, there is a continuing need to evolve beyond the language and thought process that have limited dermatological research.

“Medicine has changed drastically in 30 years, but it has changed drastically from a humanistic perspective in the last 5 years, and so I think it really catches up with people who need to adapt to the times and put back into question these ideas,” Lal said. “So it’s really about changing the people we were with and opening up our circles, keeping our eyes peeled and going with the times.”

For more from Dr. Lal’s extensive interview on skin of color, watch the video above.

About Geraldine Higgins

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