Sunday, December 5, 2010

Ethnic Skin and Hair Care

Is there a secret formula for taking care of skin of color? I may alone in believing that there is not one secret, but many! As there is no ONE SIZE FITS all solution to the problems that my ethnic skin ( read, non white) patients present with. I mean, havent you ever put a "flesh colored" band aid on after an injury and then wondered whose flesh it was designed for?

I believe that as long as the correct diagnosis is made, then anyone with education and experience can treat skin of color. Yes, diagnoses can present differently in different skin types and the explanation is not always the difference in melanin. If you think only white patients will get skin cancer, then its hard to make the diagnosis when a dark skinned patient has a "funny looking mole". I had a teacher once tell me that there were only two diagnoses I could never make. The one I didn't know about and the one I did not think about!!

It is absolutely necessary to NOT put everyone, brown, black or white into the same stereotypical framework for practicing dermatology. If a patient is concerned about "dark spots" they are probably not going to undergo a treatment that will leave the spots darker afterwords. If a physician ignores the plea for help with the blemishes then that practitioner is likely to lose that patient! The differences are probably most apparent when discussing hair care with patients who straighten their hair. Products that dry the hair more, or require frequent shampooing will not be used and there is a good chance that the patient will seek help from someone who is knowledgeable and experienced with hair that may be breaking due to hair styling methods.

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