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December 21, 1979

Skin problems in blacks receive scrutiny

JAMA. 1979;242(25):2747-2748. doi:10.1001/jama.1979.03300250005002

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In the last five years, there has been a growing movement to educate physicians about dermatologic conditions of blacks and other darkly pigmented people.

And for the third successive year, the topic of black dermatology has attracted attention at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD). Physicians who discuss these problems share a basic concern: to make practitioners aware that black patients need different or more moderate treatment for many skin conditions.

Traditionally even dermatologists confuse normal with abnormal in black skin, and most textbooks concentrate on the skin of whites, except to note diseases unique to particular genetic groups. By and large, conditions and complications that are manifested differently in the heavily pigmented populations are overlooked.

Furthermore, white physicians overwhelmingly dominate the specialty of dermatology. Counting residents, there are fewer than 90 practicing black dermatologists in the nation. This lack of input by black professionals has