The Mighty: For BIPOC, Bias is a Barrier to Treatment for Skin Conditions

Julia Metraux (JULY 2020)

When Aisha, a Pakistani-Canadian woman who has brown skin, went to see doctors to try to figure out what was causing her skin irritation, doctors told her that she had dry skin and dandruff, a common conditions that causes skin on the scalp to flake.

Aisha tried the shampoo that doctors prescribed her, but it did not help her symptoms. Her skin has since developed red patches, and she is still researching other conditions she may have.

BIPOC already face many barriers to getting adequate medical care, from racism to medical costs. When it comes to chronic skin conditions, the bias and lack of awareness among medical professionals about how symptoms present in BIPOC can lead to misdiagnosis and untreated symptoms.

Lynn McKinley-Grant, MD, an associate dermatology professor at Howard University and president of the Skin of Color Society, told The Mighty a lot of the issues BIPOC face when trying to get a skin condition diagnosis comes down to a lack of education and research among doctors.

A 2006 study conducted by Dr. Tobechi Ebede and Dr. Art Papier found that, between 1996 and 2005, teaching events at the American Academy of Dermatology annual meeting that “focused on skin of color has remained at 2%.” Since then, not much improvement has been made.

Read the full article including what doctors are doing now and what can be done in the future at The Mighty.

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