Spotlight on the Dermatologic Limitations in Skin of Color

It is widely accepted that patients with skin of color (SoC) experience disparities within health care. The simple fact is, although anyone, regardless of skin color, can suffer from skin diseases, these will not present the same way in everyone.

Patients with SoC are often misdiagnosed or undiagnosed due to providers’ lack of awareness or education in this delicate area. Unfortunately, this can lead to complications, especially if conditions are critical or time-sensitive.

This is not just a problem in diagnosis, however. These disparities also stretch to include certain treatment options and medical devices introduced to help treat these skin conditions.

Latanya T. Benjamin, MD is a dual board-certified pediatric dermatologist and dermatologic surgeon, and a former Professor at Stanford University. An expert in the field of pediatric dermatology, Dr. Benjamin combines her professional knowledge and experience with a passion for helping patients. In a recent podcast with the National Eczema Association, Dr. Benjamin gave significant insight into the difficulties providers face when choosing medical devices for patients with SoC.

“There’s a lot of limitations, less so now, but still, we have a far way to go as far as our medical devices and our lasers and what that means to certain ethnic groups and the tolerability of these devices and whether they can induce unwanted side effects. Can some of these heat devices result in melasma … or is there a phototype that cannot tolerate newer, advanced lasers?”

Not all procedures work the same on different skin colors and it’s important to recognize this. Therefore, in addition to furthering education to recognize and diagnose skin diseases in patients with SoC, it is also necessary to go one step further and evaluate the devices and therapies currently available.

According to Dr. Benjamin, “We are seeing a lot of therapies and devices are trying to consider how broad, in the spectrum of skin tones, can it serve and work on.”

So, despite the current limitations, efforts are being made to overcome these disparities wherever possible, by examining the efficacy and side effects of the methods and devices being used today, specifically in patients with SoC.


Sign up to receive updates on educational opportunities, complimentary content, exclusive discounts, and more.