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Emphasizing Culturally Competent Care in Patients With Skin of Color


Omar Noor, MD, FAAD, discusses cultural competency in caring for patients with skin of color in dermatology.

Beginning the Society of Dermatology Physician Assistants (SDPA) Annual Summer Dermatology Conference in Boston, Massachusetts, with his first session, "Clinical Pearls for Pediatric and Adult Dermatology," Omar Noor, MD, FAAD, again took to the podium to present his session, "Challenging Cases in Skin of Color."

Noor is a board-certified dermatologist, co-owner of Rao Dermatology, and a Penn Medicine affiliate. He sat down with Dermatology Times® to discuss the key highlights of his session and the role of cultural competency in dermatologic care.

Omar Noor, MD, FAAD: My name is Omar Noor. I am a board-certified dermatologist in New York and New Jersey, and I am affiliated with Penn Medicine.

Dermatology Times: What are key highlights and takeaways from your session, "Challenging Cases in Skin of Color?"

Noor: You know, skin of color has really become a very important discussion in dermatology. We recognize that skin of color patients can present with their dermatologic issue very differently than Caucasian patients. And a lot of times, our initial treatment, discussion algorithm, and basis from a textbook, comes from Caucasian patients. So if darker skin types that sometimes may not have appropriate access to health care, they get delayed in their diagnosis, it really affects their treatment. It also affects their trust in the entire health system. So we want to make sure that we're identifying patients early, we're communicating with them, the type of treatments that will be most appropriate for them, and then we need to foster more scientific research to help better personalize medications and medicine treatment algorithms for not just in different age patients, but also different skin types.

Dermatology Times: What is the importance of patient-centered, culturally competent care?

Noor: Cultural competency within skin of color reflects a lot of different avenues. The most prevalent and the most important from a physician perspective, and from a provider perspective, is going to be, 'What we are looking at? How is my treatment going to affect this patient who's skin of color, who might have a higher predisposition towards keloids, hypopigmentation or hyperpigmentation? And what am I going to be doing for this individual that may not result in the desired outcome for a darker skin type?'

Dermatology Times: What is the role and importance of patient education and community outreach?

Noor: It is our job to not only take care of the patients that come to find us, but we also need to utilize our platform to make sure that patients know that we have these options available for them. Patients sometimes have gone to seen primary care doctors, or have seen even dermatologists, and maybe newer medications, newer treatments, have become available through research, and they may not realize that though their condition could not be treated appropriately in the past, we now have newer options like topical ruxolitinib cream for vitiligo. It's the first FDA approved option, whereas patients for 20, 30, 40, 50 years, were going into going into physicians and dermatology offices. And we would throw our hands up and say, 'Listen, we have very limited options for you.' So we have to reach out to communities to make sure that they are aware that we have these options for them.

[Transcript edited for clarity]

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