Monday, June 12th, 2017

Disparities in Dermatology

Faradia Kernizan

On April 5th, I went to the Maryland Dermatologic Society meeting at Johns Hopkins. It was the first time I’d ever been to a specialized health conference and I learned a great deal. I found out about this conference from a mentor of mine, a physician, who encouraged me to attend. The conference kicked off with a lunch where the attendees had the opportunity to meet each other, chat, and network. Next, there was a patient viewing, where we were able to view patients with dermatological conditions in person and ask them questions about their conditions. After that, there was a keynote address, followed by a patient case presentation. The patient case presentations discussed the conditions that we’d previously seen at the patient viewing. I learned more about dermatology that day than I have ever learned before!

The main aspect that made me enjoy the conference so much was that people of color were represented in the conference, and dermatologic issues in people of color were presented. Typically, whenever I hear about dermatological health conditions, they are conditions that are typically suffered by Caucasians. Most dermatological health PSAs are geared toward Caucasian audiences, while people of color are often overlooked. Growing up, I had a close friend who suffered from keloids, thick, swollen scars that appear after a scar heals. Keloids typically affect people of color, especially African-Americans. However, I had never heard about dermatologic conditions that affect primarily African-Americans like keloids, Vitiligo or Dowling Degos disease until I attended this conference. As a person of color, growing up I always heard that people of color were untouchable when it came to skin cancer. However, at this conference, I learned that people of color do suffer from skin cancers such as Squamous Cell Carcinoma, and people of color should be sure to wear sunscreen whenever they will encounter sun exposure.

I had always viewed dermatology as a specialty that was geared for Caucasians, and that dermatology was a field that was not needed by people of color. However, going to this conference made me see and understand that there are many people of color that have dermatological conditions, and it is important that conditions that affect primarily people of color are studied and not forgotten. I hope to attend more conferences like this, and I hope that in the near future both dermatologists of color and Caucasian dermatologists will study dermatologic conditions that affect primarily people of color and that leads to more understanding and knowledge.

About Faradia Kernizan

Faradia Kernizan is a first generation Haitian-American from Queens, NY. She graduated from Johns Hopkins University in 2012, and majored in History of Science, Medicine, and Technology.  In her free time, Faradia likes to run, volunteer, bake, watch movies, and hang out with friends.

One thought on “Disparities in Dermatology

  1. Hi Faradia,

    Thank you for making a blog post about Dermatology. I am pre-medical student who recently graduated from Brooklyn College last month. I planning on becoming a Dermatologist. However, just like you mentioned, dermatology is a field of study neglected and forgotten in the African-American community. As a African-American female, many of my family and people around me neglect dermatology because they believe it’s “caucasian” field. Are you planning on becoming a dermatologist? I am interested in connecting with you regarding medicine.
    Thank you. Hope to hear from you soon.

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