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Celebrating Black History Month in Dermatology

Feature
Article

Review Dermatology Times’ February content uplifting Black voices.

The first Black History Month was celebrated in 1976 to recognize the importance of Black history in America. In 1976, President Gerald R. Ford encouraged Americans to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of Black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.”1

Now, as of 2023, only 3% of dermatologists in the United States are Black. Compared to the approximately 13% of Black individuals in the US, additional representation in dermatology is crucial.2

A study published in March 2023 in the Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology analyzed the practice patterns of 221 self-identified Black dermatologists in the Black Dermatologist Directory and found that “Black patients may actively seek care from Black dermatologists. Adherence to dermatologic therapy may be 11% higher among race concordant patient-provider dyads, reinforcing the importance of supporting recruitment of Black dermatologists to promote patient access and engagement.”2

The continued representation of Black patients in clinical trials, educational materials, webinars, and additional resources are needed to ensure dermatologic conditions present on Black skin are accurately documented and recorded to ensure accurate diagnoses and treatment.

Found below is a collection of Black History Month pieces dedicated to dermatology. The end of February does not mean the end of celebrating Black individuals, and instead is a reminder to always uplift Black voices.

Vaseline's Mended Murals Initiative Utilizes Street Art to Spread Awareness and Skin Health and Access in Underserved Patients, Individuals With Skin of Color

In an effort to address systemic racism and health care disparities affecting people of color, Vaseline has announced the launch of Mended Murals, a street art initiative aimed at promoting skin health equity. The initiative seeks to highlight the importance of skin care for underrepresented communities through the restoration of murals in various cities across the United States. Through this initiative, Vaseline aims to raise awareness about the significance of proper skin care and the need for increased access to health resources in marginalized communities.

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Improving Representation of Skin of Color in Dermatology

“About 3% of practicing US-based dermatologists are African American, which is not reflective of the current population balances within our country... Our population within this country is becoming more diverse with many different phototypes. It's very important to know how certain conditions look in different skin colors and types,” said Miranda Uzoma Ewelukwa, MD, FAAD, in an interview with Dermatology Times. In honor of Black History Month, Ewelukwa, a board-certified dermatologist at US Dermatology Partners Sugar Land in Sugar Land, Texas, provided insight into the current state of skin of color representation in dermatology in the US.

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Hair and Skin Publications From Sub-Saharan Africa Are Steadily Increasing, Researchers Report

Over the years, partnerships between institutions, individuals in academia, and public health experts, have led to a steady increase in hair and skin-related publications originating from sub-Saharan Africa, according to a recent study published in the International Journal of Dermatology. Twenty years ago, L'Oréal began a philanthropic and research initiative, called the L'Oréal African Hair and Skin Research Grants program, aimed at filling the gap in dermatological research in African populations, with the aim of increasing science and clinical research on hair and skin in sub-Saharan Africa.

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Adewole (Ade) Adamson, MD, MPP: Systemic Racism, Patient Access, and Advancing Health Equity

Vaseline recently announced the launch of Mended Murals, a street art initiative aimed at promoting skin health equity. The initiative seeks to highlight the importance of skin care for underrepresented communities through the restoration of murals in various cities across the United States. Adewole (Ade) Adamson, MD, MPP, is a board-certified dermatologist based in Austin, Texas, and an assistant professor of Internal Medicine (Division of Dermatology) at Dell Medical School at the University of Texas at Austin. Adamson is also a health services researcher and specializes in caring for patients at high risk for melanoma of the skin, evidence-based medicine, and health policy. In addition, Adamson served as the director of the Melanoma and Pigmented Lesion clinic at Dell Seton Medical Center.

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Delivering on Diversity in Clinical Trials: Getting Started

Patient diversity in clinical trials is top-of-mind for today's leading researchers. “It [diversity in clinical trials] is not where we want it to be yet. Now that the NIH has required companies to indicate how diverse their trials are, I think that has made a difference,” Susan Taylor, MD, professor of dermatology at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, recently told Dermatology Times in an interview at Masterclasses in Dermatology. Taylor is a co-founder of the Skin of Color Society (SOCS) and is gearing up to celebrate the organization’s 20th anniversary during the SOCS Scientific Symposium in San Diego on March 7, 2024, ahead of the American Academy of Dermatology Meeting. The theme of this year’s symposium is “Pathways to Equity: Advancing Advocacy, Research, and Clinical Excellence.”

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References

  1. February is Black History Month. Black History Month. Accessed February 28, 2024. https://www.blackhistorymonth.gov/About.html
  2. Kodumudi V, Gronbeck C, Feng H. Practice Characteristics of Self-Identified Black Dermatologists in the United States. J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. 2023;16(3):27-29.
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