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September 1950


Author Affiliations

Clinical Professor of Dermatology and Syphilology, Tufts College Medical School LYNN, MASS.

From the Department of Dermatology and Syphilology, Tufts College Medical School, John G. Downing, M.D., Professor.

Arch Derm Syphilol. 1950;62(3):370-379. doi:10.1001/archderm.1950.01530160022003

FOR A LONG time it has been evident that certain descriptive designations of clinical dermatology lacked scientific specificity. To those who write case reports and who demonstrate patients, the difficulty of painting a picture with words is only too painfully familiar. The deficiencies of the everyday vocabulary in this respect are present to a most glaring degree in attempts to describe color. The color of normal skin may not present too great a difficulty (fig. 1). The description of skin lesions, however, causes the greatest difficulty. In demonstrating this phase of morphologic description to students it is probably a common exercise of demonstrators to point to a lesion and ask those present to describe its color. Here is an example of the answers obtained in such an exercise with fourth year medical students: "reddish brown," "dark red," "rusty red," "red" (2), "brown," "copper" and "tomato red." Probably everyone teaching

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