Missing: Black Skin in Dermatology
Have you ever had a new rash, discoloration or other skin irritation and tried self-diagnosing by asking Dr. Google? Only to realize you might have a really hard time figuring out what your issue might because all the examples showing up are on Caucasian skin, and you're, well.... not.
It can be a frustrating experience, and not one limited to the internet. The practice of dermatology has one of the least diverse representations, which along with the lack of image references for skin of color, has created a disparity in accurate diagnoses between white patients and patients of color. One startling statistic states that the 5-year survival rate for melanoma cases is 90% among Caucasians, but that figure drops to 66% among Black patients in the United States.
Luckily, a second-year Black dermatology student decided to take matters into his own hands and publish a guides to help diagnose conditions on Black skin called Mind The Gap. The author, Malone Mukwende, believes this type of information is more crucial than ever, especially during the pandemic. He's quoted as saying:
The booklet addresses many issues that have been further exacerbated during the Covid-19 pandemic, such as families being asked if potential Covid patients are ‘pale’ or if their lips ‘turned blue’. These are not useful descriptors for a black patient and, as a result, their care is compromised from the first point of contact
- M. Mukwende
This is serious stuff! Mukwende has made his guide is available for free online, where you can not only consult his ever-growing resource, but you can also contribute to his project by submitting your own images, if you suffer from a dermatological condition. Community help, at its best.