Skin of color is a specialty in dermatology that looks at the skin, hair, and nail conditions in people of African, Latin, Asian, Middle Eastern and Native American descent; also known as people of color.
New York City is one of the most ethnically diverse cities in the world, and the rest of the country is catching up. It is predicted that the United States will become minority white in 2025. For the last 20 years many areas of medicine, particularly dermatology, have been addressing how to better serve a diverse patient population.
Dermatology, which deals with conditions of the skin, hair, and nails, is an obvious specialty to be at the forefront of addressing diversity issues. Skin and hair provide many of the racially defining characteristics. In addition to the fact that certain dermatologic conditions affect certain ethnic groups more frequently, the same skin condition can present differently depending on skin types. Certain therapies may be more compatible with ethnic grooming practices.
Skin of Color at Aglow Dermatology
At Aglow Dermatology, we have the expertise in taking care of conditions in patients of all skin types. Our director, Dr. Dina Strachan, is a black dermatologist in NYC who came into health care with a cosmopolitan perspective that predates even her interest in dermatology.
As a native of New York City, Dr. Strachan grew up with ethnic diversity that has become a key foundation in her work. Throughout her life she made it a priority to travel to several regions of the world, immersing herself in the communities that were the roots of the people she grew up with.
She took two gap years between college and medical school which took her to India for an internship in grassroots development, and once back home, she worked in a diverse Boston neighborhood as a perinatal case manager at the Matapan Community Health Center.
During medical school, she did virology research in Thailand, as well as clinical rotations at the University of the West Indies in Kingston, Jamaica, and at a community health clinic in a rural area of the Dominican Republic.
Dr. Strachan did her medical internship and dermatology residency training at the University of California, San Francisco where she treated many people from the Asian and Hispanic community as well as many white patients with skin cancer.
In the Media- exploring diversity in the United States:
Her first position as a board-certified dermatologist was at King/Drew Medical Center in South Central Los Angeles where she was the director of resident education in a predominately Hispanic and African American community
Dr. Strachan is an internationally sought after dermatologist for black skin and African American hair loss treatment. She has been named among “top black doctors” for several years by The Network Journal. She is a member of the Skin of Color Society and the founder of FindaBlackDoctor.com, a website to promote access to culturally diverse board-certified doctors and dentists.
Dr. Strachan’s expertise is often sought by local and national media outlets, as well as companies regarding issues of health, beauty, and business. She was named one of the “24 Influences making black beauty history now” by Essence and was part of the first all-black beauty expert panel for Yahoo-Lifestyle in 2020. She has been a consultant for several brands including Alberto-Culver, Hawaiian Tropic, Phyto, and the No!No! hair removal device.
Skin Cancer and the Color of Your Skin
Many people believe that because of their lighter skin, only white people can get cancer. Although it is true that skin cancer rates are lower in people of color it is important to recognize that they are not immune. When people of color are affected by skin cancer, they are more likely to have a poor outcome. It is important to recognize when skin cancer appears in people of color it presents differently than in people of European descent. We recommend that people of all skin types wear sun protection every day and get skin cancer screenings on a regular basis.
Interestingly, qutaniusT-cell lymphoma, a type of skin cancer that more commonly presents in covered areas rather than sun-exposed areas is more common in people of color.
Acne Treatment and the Color of Your Skin
Acne is the most common skin condition for patients of all skin types. Given the tendency to develop hyperpigmentation and scaring in people of color, patients can present with different concerns and should be managed differently.
Pigmentary Disorders Regarding Skin Color
Darker skin tends to react to skin injury with changes in pigmentation or color. When the skin darkens in response to inflammation such as acne, a burn, or eczema, we call this hyperpigmentation. When the response is a reduction in pigments we call this hypopigmentation. Conditions such as vitiligo, in which the skin loses all pigment, affect patients of all races equally, but as it presents with white patches it is more clinically significant in people with dark skin.
SHOP: Products for hyperpigmentation and melasma
Hair Loss and the Color of Your Skin
There are a variety of different types of hair loss that affect patients regardless of ethnic background. Patients of different ethnic backgrounds, however, may have a variety of hair issues due to different hair textures, genetic phenotypes, and grooming practices.
In the Media: Aglow Dermatology on CBS new New York regarding alopecia
Cosmetic Dermatology and Skin of Color
Cosmetic Dermatology which is often procedural requires understanding the risks of developing a pigmentary disorder or a scar. It is important to understand the different risks of developing a pigmentary disorder or scar as a result of the intervention. People of different ethnic backgrounds age differently and have different cosmetic concerns and preferences.
In the Media:
Medical Dermatology and the Color of Skin
The frequency, presentation, and complications of many skin diseases will vary based on skin type. For example, when a patient comes to a dermatologist for the treatment of dark spots on the face, the patient’s race may affect what one is likely to find. In a white patient, we may be concerned about lentigo maligna melanoma. In a Hispanic patient, we may be looking at melasma, in an African American patient we may be looking at Dermatosis Papulosa Ingra, and in an Asian patient, we may be looking at sunspots.
In the Media:
- Dr. Dina Strachan Discusses Ethnic Skin Care
- Black Skin Care 101: What are Keloid Scars and How can Black Women get rid of Them?
- Black Skin Care Dermatologist Red Flags
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