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Chicago Tribune: Black Patients See Skin Issues Misdiagnosed

The Chicago Tribune and Atlanta Daily World recently featured Cedars-Sinai dermatologist Jasmine Onyeka Obioha, MD, in articles explaining why skin conditions in patients of color often are misdiagnosed or mishandled.

During the pandemic, Obioha said she's seen many of patients of color who have suffered from botched cosmetic procedures, such as laser resurfacing, chemical peels and laser hair removal, which can do serious damage to darker skin if not performed correctly.

"I’ve had patients come to me for complications from cosmetic treatments done at medispas or even by dermatologists," Obioha said in the Atlanta Daily World article. "It’s part of a bigger problem–disparities in healthcare affecting patients of color."

Because few dermatologists receive specific training in darker skin, they can mishandle cosmetic procedures, and also risk misdiagnosing common conditions such as psoriasis in skin of color. The reason? They're "only trained to recognize these conditions on lighter skin," Obioha told the Tribune.

That lack of training can also cause dermatologists and other physicians to prescribe treatments in a way that doesn’t fit their Black patients' lifestyles.

"I can’t count the number of patients I’ve seen with dandruff whose dermatologist or primary care physician prescribed them a clinical shampoo to use three times a week and didn’t touch it," Obioha said in the Atlanta Daily World article. Many Black women wash their hair once a week at most due to its fragile texture. "Physicians need to grasp the nuances of ethnic skin and hair. Otherwise, patients will lose confidence in them," Obioha said.

Click here to read the complete stories from the Chicago Tribune and Atlanta Daily World.