How To Skin Disease Is often Misdiagnosed In Darker Skin Tones

How To Skin Disease Is often Misdiagnosed In Darker Skin Tones

The skin is the biggest organ in the human body and one of the most potent indicators of our health. This is erythema migrans, a symptom of Lyme disease, a tick-borne infection that affects over 80 nations and 476,000 individuals in the United States each year. Dermatologists, like myself, are specialists who specialize in skin disease diagnosis and treatment. And we’ve been taught to think of erythema migrans as a bullseye-shaped rash that varies from red to pink. However, with dark skin, this does not appear to be the case. There are violet, magenta, and even dark brown tones here, as you can see. Related – How to become sleep your “Superpower” a scientific view.

Does Skin Color Affect Health?

We would commonly misdiagnose skin illness in patients of color if we relied solely on dermatological textbooks to educate us how to recognize it. And this is a major issue since Lyme illness requires treatment. Lyme disease has serious health consequences if left untreated, including arthritis and nerve damage. Furthermore, as we’ve seen an increase in the incidence of Lyme disease, a phenomenon attributed in part to climate change, we may see more people infected with Lyme disease as we continue to see and experience the effects of climate change, making it even more critical that we’re able to accurately diagnose it.

How To Skin Disease Is often Misdiagnosed In Darker Skin Tones

This case of erythema migrans now represents a wider problem. In the United States, 47% of graduating dermatology residents say they are uncomfortable detecting skin illness in dark-skinned patients. The percentage is 47%. Allow a few moments for it to sink in. This is a shocking figure, and it indicates that doctors of the skin who have just completed their most extensive training do not feel confident identifying and treating all patients. Despite this, they complete their residency and are entitled to become board-certified dermatologists who can treat anyone. Related – High effective vitamins and nutrients needed for hair growth.

Could This Explain Why?

In many fields of medicine, including dermatology, we still observe and experience health care disparities? I believe there is a link between the fact that almost half of dermatology residents are uncomfortable identifying and treating specific patients and the patients’ inferior health outcomes. I frequently deal with patients of color who express concern that their dermatologist is inexperienced with detecting skin illness in their skin tone or is hesitant to educate them how to care for their hair or scalp. And I’m curious: does knowing that your doctor feels uncomfortable with you have anything to do with the physician-patient relationship, faith in the medical establishment, or the chance of someone returning for more care? One issue in dermatology is that we aren’t taught how skin illness manifests itself in different skin tones.

What Is Dark Skin Tone?

Dark skin is a form of human skin tone that has a high concentration of melanin pigments, particularly eumelanin. Persons with dark color of skin have skin that is naturally rich in melanin (particularly eumelanin), as well as more melanosomes, which give greater protection against the harmful effects of UV radiation. Related – How to feels to your brain during a migraine.

My classmates and I immediately discovered that we only saw black skin when we were studying about syphilis as medical students. This observation is backed up by study I published in the British Journal of Dermatology in 2019, which found an overrepresentation of dark skin in chapters about sexually transmitted illnesses, despite the fact that the same skin tones are underrepresented elsewhere in the same textbook. What effect does this have on impressionable students? Does it make people believe that someone with dark complexion is more likely to be infected with a sexually transmitted disease?

Now, I know what you’re thinking: “I know an algorithm that can fix this,” or “machine learning to the rescue.” And I’ve come to respectfully disagree. That’s because the photographs used to train these algorithms are the same ones that overrepresent dark skin in some skin conditions while underrepresenting it in others. In other words, unless we make big changes, these algorithms will be as prejudiced as we are. At the University of California, San Francisco, I founded the Skin of Color program, where I work with medical students and residents to help them unlearn some of the harmful patterns that make it easier to see some things, such as dark skin with syphilis, and harder to see others, such as dark skin with erythema migrans. Read – How To Recover From Illness Using Your Own Stem Cells.

How To Skin Disease Is often Misdiagnosed In Darker Skin Tones

I teach everything from how to recognize inflammation in dark skin to how to approach a Black lady about her hair care habits. And one thing I always make sure to note is that washing one’s hair every day is neither good nor common for Black women. This crucial insight should be included in every hair and scalp treatment routine. My work at the Skin of Color program, as well as similar programs across the country, emphasizes the importance of establishing a dedicated educational environment for residents & medical students to learn about the full spectrum of skin disease as it manifests in all patients, regardless of skin tone.

This is a critical first step in the lengthy process of eradicating dermatological inequities in health care. But let’s make a firm commitment to accompanying one other on this trip. Please share this article with others.

Article based on American dermatologist Jenna C. Lester’s Speech.

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