by Roni Caryn Rabin (AUGUST 30, 2020)
In the spring, teenagers started showing up at doctor’s offices in droves with angry red and purple blisters on their fingers and toes. The latest unexpected feature of the coronavirus infection fascinated the public, and suddenly photographs of so-called Covid toes were everywhere on social media.
But almost all of the images depicted glossy pink lesions on white skin. Though people of color have been affected disproportionately by the pandemic, pictures of Covid toes on dark skin were curiously hard to find.
The problem isn’t unique to Covid toes or to social media. Dermatology, the medial specialty devoted to treating diseases of the skin, has a problem with brown and black skin. Though progress has been made in recent years, most textbooks that serve as road maps for diagnosing skin disorders often don’t include images of skin conditions as they appear on people of color.
“If you have no experience with this in people of color, it’s like saying you don’t know how to examine the lungs or the heart,” said Dr. Art Papier, a dermatologist who co-founded VisualDx.