Skin Of Color Patient Case: What Needs To Change?

A 6-year-old Black girl was brought in by her parents to see a dermatologist. The young girl had dark marks and pruritus, with post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation presenting as the complaint. The diagnosis given was atopic dermatitis and the parents and young girl were sent home. 

This is a case that was previously highlighted by pediatric dermatologist and LiVDerm faculty member Candrice R. Heath, MD. Dr. Heath mentioned that no consideration was given to this family in relation to their fears and concerns that these troubling dark spots would remain on the young girl’s skin for the rest of her life. There was never any effort or time taken to really understand their concerns.

According to Dr. Heath, patients with skin of color (SoC) are often still marginalized in health care. She states, “There are several concerns in your exam room that may be invisible.” As such, there is an ongoing need to do more than just diagnose patients. An awareness of the challenges of diagnosis in pediatric patients with SoC is vital. In addition, as health care providers, there is also a need to develop a firmer understanding of the concerns and effects these conditions can have on different people and their families.

Dr. Heath, who is board certified in dermatology, pediatrics, and pediatric dermatology, considers it her professional and personal duty to help her patients embrace their beauty both inside and out. She has a special interest in dermatologic disorders that present uniquely in SoC, atopic dermatitis, hair disorders, and patient experience.

She recognizes the importance of taking the time to understand more than just the patient’s medical condition. Dr. Heath makes it a priority to ask a few additional questions and gain deeper insight into the patient’s life, to consider their demographics, socioeconomic levels, and personal situations, and be better able to treat them.

“Asking a few additional questions can actually impact treatment adherence among all patients. Just thinking about how is every patient’s life a little bit different outside of my exam room and what can I do to accommodate that to make our end goal better and easier to reach.”


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