Posts Tagged racial bias

Types of Hyperpigmentation, Symptoms, and Who it Affects

Have you ever noticed spots or patches on skin that are a different shade than other areas? Often times we reference this as hyperpigmentation, which can be used to describe an area of the skin that is darker than the surrounding skin. This can be due to something benign, like a mole, or something malignant, like skin cancer. Benign skin conditions can include moles, birthmarks, skin infections, drug induced rashes/spots, post inflammatory hyperpigmentation that can result from trauma, an old acne spot, melasma and more. Malignant skin conditions can include melanoma and pigmented Basal Cell Carcinoma.

What does this mean for you? If something hyperpigmented on your skin is worsening, I would advise you to see a board-certified dermatologist. Furthermore, I would practice good skin care, which includes daily sunscreen use, especially on the face, neck, chest, and hands. These are common areas where patients come in seeking laser and cosmetic help for sun damage. Many people think that patients with darker skin types do not need daily sunscreen. However, that’s not the case – we all do! 

We know that the sun eats up our collagen, which you can see in the searchable “truck driver skin” reference. We also know that many of us do not wear enough sunscreen in our day-to-day. As a dermatologist I cannot stress enough the importance of wearing sunscreen daily but remember – wearing sunscreen does NOT mean that your skin will not tan or darken when in the sun. Using extra protection like wearing a hat and seeking shade when outdoors, particularly if you are worried about hyperpigmentation, is key. These practices are also necessary post procedures, such as after surgery or laser treatments. If you have a benign skin condition that appears hyperpigmented, regardless of the location, you want to ensure that there is minimal contact with the sun as it will only darken the area.

Typically, hyperpigmentation in and of itself is NOT symptomatic. However, if it is due to a skin infection, it may be itchy or painful. If the cause is pigmented Basal Cell Carcinoma (skin cancer), it can bleed, enlarge, and crust. Just because something is not symptomatic, does not necessarily mean it cannot be concerning, so always check with your dermatologist. If you’re in need of finding a provider, utilize Vaseline x HUED’s directory of dermatologists and practitioners to meet with a medical expert who understands the care that your skin needs.

Next up, let’s address another common concern I encounter with my patients daily. One is post inflammatory hyperpigmentation from acne, an old rash, post-surgical scars, or any other procedure that created temporary inflammation. For these patients, I review good skin care and treatment options using medications that help even out the skin tone. These can come with side effects, so it is prudent to inform your dermatologist of what medications you have tried as well as the concentrations of each. Those steps are advised to ensure efforts are not duplicated and can be treated most efficiently. Many times, patients are eager to start laser treatment to lighten spots quickly. We have many laser options available, but one must remember that being aggressive with laser treatment, (which causes inflammation), can exacerbate the hyperpigmentation. Our skin is the extremely delicate and takes time to heal, so it’s always worth remembering that results will are not immediate. Due to the sensitivity of our skin, I often use a synergistic approach using all the tools we have available, like medications, lasers, and comprehensive skin care, to optimize our time and effort.

Hyperpigmentation can affect anyone, regardless of skin color. Have you ever seen someone with a scratch that healed and left a brown spot? That is hyperpigmentation. Or an acne lesion that has gone away but left a brown spot?  This is another example of hyperpigmentation. Being in the sun will darken the pigment in the skin, so be aware of that! For additional ways to receive Vitamin D beyond that sunshine, try out foods and supplements fortified with the necessary Vitamin D. In the meantime, when you are outside, make sure you spend time in the sun safely.

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Understanding HIV and How to Get Tested

The Center for Disease and Control defines HIV  (human immunodeficiency virus) as a virus that attacks the body’s immune system, and if left untreated, it can develop into AIDS. Individuals contracting HIV can live a long life, and will the correct medication, they can avoid transferring the illness to others. HIV is not curable and is a lifetime illness so understanding the history and prevention is essential 

The outbreak of HIV started in the United States in the early 1980s, and it was found to be passed through sex, blood donation, and sharing needles. However, researchers found HIV and AIDs had originated in West-Central Africa in monkeys and jumped from primate to human through cuts and wounds before the 1980s. In the past, the fear of HIV lead to misinformation and the ostracizing of individuals such as those in the LGBTQA+ community. This has caused violence and a lack of resources in marginalized Black, Latinx, and LGBTQA+ communities.

Today information is readily available to show everyone can be impacted by HIV, and those who are sexually active should test frequently. Numerous campaigns and research studies touch on ending the stigma associated with HIV that lingers throughout the years. Testing for HIV can be done during STD and STI testing, and it is recommended annually. However, depending on your sexual activity with new partners or frequency, sharing needles twice a year or three times a year can also be done.

AIDSvu.org

The Center for Disease Control has a Get Tested database to help individuals find HIV testing sites in their community for low to no cost.  

The three types of HIV tests can be seen below:

  • Antibody tests to check for HIV antibodies in blood or oral fluid. 
  • Antigen/antibody tests can detect both HIV antibodies and HIV antigens in the blood.
  • NATs (very expensive and used for high-risk exposures)

Although we have medication and resources that can help individuals with HIV with low to no symptoms and flares, those resources are not readily available to everyone. In addition, marginalized Black, Latinx, Indigenous, and those within LGBTQA+ often live in communities that do not have adequate healthcare, insurance, or transportation. So the necessary medication and treatment that allow people to live longer lives with HIV are not readily available.

It is essential to ensure all communities have the necessary resources and information to have the required testing for HIV. Although anyone can be impacted, not everyone has the healthcare to navigate through HIV, which is a health disparity. Getting tested, advocating, and circulating accurate information is how we can stay informed about HIV. 

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Site content is provided for informational purposes and is not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

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Roe vs. Wade Was Overturned and What to Do Next

On June 24, 2022, the Supreme Court released its decision to overturn the federal protection of Roe v. Wade and allow states to set individual precedents. States have already set up trigger laws that immediately impact abortion accessibility for conditions, such as Arkansas and Louisiana. Centers and clinics had to cancel future appointments, which had significant emotional and mental effects on those working at clinics and patients.

Over the past few days, we have seen an outpour of political leaders, businesses, celebrities, and medical professionals sharing how this decision attacks healthcare. Below is an image to illustrate the 26 states that are certain or likely to have an abortion ban according to the Guttmacher Institute:

These bans include:
• Trigger bans
• 6-week bans
• 8-week bans
• Near-total bans

Many states plan not to give exceptions for sexual assault, incest, miscarriage, and ectopic pregnancy, which will lead to trauma and death. States leaning towards a near-total ban are even looking to take legal action against anyone who gets an abortion and those that assist (i.e., driving someone to the clinic). This decision attacks healthcare and will further create health disparities for marginalized Black, Latinx, and Indigenous individuals. Especially when the Supreme Court is looking to overturn laws that give access to contraceptives such as IUDs and Plan B.

Organizations such as Planned Parenthood, Plan C, and the Digital Defense Fund ensure we have the necessary information to access abortions and stay undetected by law enforcement. Below is an infographic that includes tips on how to keep hidden when looking for an abortion.

These tips include:
• Turning off location
• Deleting period tracking apps
• Clearing browser history
• Use Firefox focus instead of the default browser

For those looking to have a better understanding of their state’s new abortion laws and to access and donate to clinics, follow the links below:
• PlannedParenthood.org: Understand access in your state
• AbortionFunds.org: Donate to abortion funds
• KeepOurClinics.org: Independent Support Clinics
• PlanCPills.org: Learn more and buy Abortion Pills
• Plan B: Learn more at Planned Parenthood

For decades we have been able to access abortions and contraceptives, and now the rights of millions are being taken. The following steps are to learn what is happening in your state, share as much information as possible, and vote. During this time, it is also important to rest and recenter as this decision can be overwhelming and disheartening for many.
Stay connected to us on Instagram @HUEDCO
Site content is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

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What is Vitiligo? Cause, Frequency, and treatment for patients – a guide on treatment and expert tips by a dermatologist

Vitiligo is a common skin condition where areas of skin tend to lose their color (or depigment) due to the destruction of the pigment-producing cells (melanocytes). Any skin area can become affected, but the most common areas include the face (including the eyes, nose, and mouth), hands, elbows, knees, ankles, and groin, as well as areas of injury or friction. In addition, many skin disorders can lead to pigment changes on the skin. A board-certified dermatologist can help diagnose vitiligo in the office through a physical examination, history taking, and tools such as a Wood’s lamp.

What causes vitiligo to occur?

While the exact cause of vitiligo has been debated, we know that multiple environmental and genetic factors can play a role in the condition. Vitiligo is considered an autoimmune skin disorder, which means the body’s immune system destroys melanocytes. In addition, some people have an increased risk of autoimmune thyroid diseases that can lead to hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism.

Who does vitiligo affect?

Vitiligo affects all ages, genders, and ethnicities. Because the condition creates areas of deep pigmentation, this can appear more prominent on those with darker skin and can be challenging to identify in those with lighter skin. Some forms of vitiligo are more common in African descent. While the condition may start rapidly in some and it can vary person-to-person.

What are skin care considerations for those with vitiligo?

The importance of sun protection in those with vitiligo cannot be overstated. Using a broad spectrum, SPF 30 or higher sunscreen can limit sunburn risk, especially in depigmented areas that are most vulnerable. Sunscreen also has an additional role in preventing natural skin tanning, which, if it occurs, can make areas of vitiligo more prominent in appearance. Other sun protective behaviors are essential, such as avoiding peak hours of sun exposure, avoiding tanning beds, wearing a broad-brimmed hat, sunglasses, sun protective clothing, and seeking shade. 

What are the treatment options for those with vitiligo?

The most crucial step in treatment is obtaining the correct diagnosis with a board-certified dermatologist. With treatment, many patients can experience stabilizing their pigment loss and better quality of life. Once stable, therapies are available to assist in repigmenting the skin; however, results can be variable. Medical therapy using topical anti-inflammatory creams (such as topical steroids and calcineurin inhibitors), light therapy, and oral/injectable medications can help decrease the condition’s impact. Emerging surgical options also exist to treat the condition. In advanced cases, depigmentation may be offered by your physician. Cosmetic camouflage products are available at all stages if those affected desire coverage. It’s essential to understand all the available treatment options and work closely with your physician to choose a treatment plan that is best for you.

  1. Alikhan A, Felsten LM, Daly M, Petronic-Rosic V. Vitiligo: a comprehensive overview Part I. Introduction, epidemiology, quality of life, diagnosis, differential diagnosis, associations, histopathology, etiology, and work-up. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. 2011;65(3):473-91.
  2. Grimes PE. Vitiligo. In: Taylor S, Kelly AP, Lim H, Serrano AM. Taylor and Kelly’s Dermatology for Skin of Color. 2nd ed. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Education; 2016.
  3. Felsten LM, Alikhan A, Petronic-Rosic V. Vitiligo: a comprehensive overview Part II: treatment options and approach to treatment. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. 2011;65(3):493-514.

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Our History With Sickle Cell: Why We Have It and How to Navigate 

Sickle Cell Disease is an inherited red blood cell disorder in which the red blood cells have a C-sharp called a “Sickle” and become hard and sticky. The shape of the blood cells can create clogs and stop blood flow, and they die early, which causes a shortage of red blood cells in the body, according to research.

According to the American Society of Hematology, about 8 to 10 percent of African-Americans have an inherited sickle cell trait. The Sickle Cell trait is more prevalent in African-Americans than in any other group due to our ancestral need for different blood cells. One research study, Malaria and Early African Development: Evidence from the Sickle Cell Trait, found sickle cell shows our connection to our African ancestors since those with sickle cell disease are less impacted by malaria. Another study found that African-Americans will sickle cell have more of a genetic connection to those from the Yoruban, Mandenka, and Bantu populations.

There are different forms of sickle cell disease, depending on parents’ genetically inherited codes. The more common types are HbSS, HbSC, and HbS beta thalassemia. These codes are determined at birth with abnormal hemoglobin.

According to the CDC, the diagnosis of sickle cell can be made while the baby is still in the womb or during a newborn baby’s routine bloodwork. The earlier sickle cell diagnosis, the sooner families can understand the impact and symptoms and navigate treatment and proper medical care. Those with sickle cell can experience the following:

Sickle Cell complications:

  • Acute Chest Syndrome Includes cough, chest pain, and symptoms that can mirror pneumonia.
  • Anemia: Not enough red blood cells can cause fatigue, irritability, and delayed puberty.
  • Kidney Problems: Bedwetting, blood in urine, and high blood pressure.
  • Organ damage: Irregular heartbeat, swelling of hands and feet, yellowing the skin, organ failure.
  • Pulmonary Hypertension: Lightheaded, dizziness, fatigue, difficulty breathing.

Knowing what can happen will help manage a sickle cell crisis that can cause throbbing, stabbing, or severe pain. Below are ways that researchers believe can lower the odds of a crisis.

  • Stay hydrated 
  • Avoid cold weather and swimming in cold water 
  • Manage stress 
  • Limit smoking and alcohol 
  • Keep up with other health concerns and medical appointments. 

Having a medical provider and support team that can help advocate for good care and support in the needed way is essential. Navigating sickle cell can be overwhelming when physical pain and mental stress start weighing on an individual. We encourage everyone to look into the HUED directory if a medical provider is needed and get a formal sickle cell diagnosis as soon as possible.  

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Site content is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

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Yes You Are Brown and You Still Need Sunscreen

If we were to list the best way to take a selfie, I am sure one of the top requests would be in the natural sun. Unfortunately, the natural lighting combined with the sun’s glow gives melanated skin tones, making the Instagram feed a permanent post. 

The sun is nature’s best highlight, but it can also be our skin’s biggest enemy if we do not take the necessary steps to provide protection. Unfortunately, despite what we were told as melanated people, natural skin can only protect us for so long. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, 90% of skin aging is due to sun exposure. So one protector is that sunscreen needs to be used in the summer and throughout the year.

Sunscreen is often marketed in the summer because more Americans are prone to spend more time outdoors. However, a survey found that close to 60% of Americans do not mark summer by date but by the temperature rise. Regardless of temperature, sunscreen protects from the sun’s rays year-round. According to Yale Scientific, sunscreen works to block and absorb UV radiation by using both physical and chemical components.  

As melanated people, we need to actively prevent sunburn and be aware of what sunburn looks like on our skin—your risk of melanoma doubles after suffering from 5 or more sunburns. Research recommends sunscreen with SPF 30 and above every 90 minutes while outside. Sunscreen with hats, sunglasses, and UV protective clothing will be the most effective. 

Recently, more sunscreen products have been created to help melanated skin. As a child, you may have run into an issue if the sunscreen does not properly soak into your skin and potentially turn skin purple or leave a white residue. However, looking for a lightweight sunscreen that possibly doubles as a moisturizer will help not get that sunscreen overcast. 

Now is the time to start adding sunscreen or other UV ray blockers into your daily skincare and morning routine. Below are tips that can help:

  1. Look for skin products that have SPF already, including many face primers and moisturizers that double as SPF protection. 
  2. Keep sunscreen readily available if spending a day outside; a small tube in your bag or car can help throughout the day.
  3. Sunscreen alone cannot do it all. Be sure to wear sunglasses, hats, and clothing to protect from sun rays.
  4. After getting a sunburn, take measures to heal that skin area.
  5. Be sure to talk to a dermatologist to understand your skin and the needed SPF for your body.

Melanated skin deserves protection, and we no longer have to wonder about what sunburn looks like and feels like on our skin. Thanks to Vaseline x HUEDs database “See My Skin,” photos of different skin conditions such as cancer and eczema are available for review. See My Skin is a dermatologist-backed platform created, so those with melanated skin no longer have to wonder about their skin conditions.

Keeping your skin covered, sunscreen, hats, shades, and platforms like See My Skin are ways to ensure lasting healthy skin. Also, find a dermatologist who knows your skin needs under the directory at HUED. Summer is here, and so is sun safety.

Stay connected to us on Instagram @HUEDCO

Site content is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

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Why You Should Get Tested for Celiac Disease

When it comes to our day to day, some aspects of life often seem to be unavoidable. It comes to many modern-day can diets that look like our gluten intake. It is estimated that we ingest around 5-20 grams of foods and grains that contain gluten daily.  

Even some of our lip care products contain gluten, and in recent years, more products have been distancing themselves from the ingredient. However, individuals may not know their discomfort after eating gluten is a celiac disease with all this consumption.

According to research published National Library of Medicine, “Gluten is the main storage protein of wheat grains. Gluten is a complex mixture of hundreds of related but distinct proteins, mainly gliadin and glutenin.” Therefore, we find gluten very heavily in whole wheat, barley, and rye which can cause inflammation known as celiac disease.

Celiac disease is an inflammatory causing the autoimmune disease which impacts around 1in 5 of the US population. Ingesting gluten disrupts the small intestine lining and can cause issues such as diarrhea, weight loss, and even discomfort. If celiac goes untreated, an individual can encounter severe health impacts such as mouth ulcers or infertility. 

It is essential to know that celiac disease is caused by eating gluten, mainly in people with two types of genes, DQ2 and DQ8. In addition, the reaction to gluten spurs can also impact the body later in life, so an individual may not see inflammation until adulthood. These reasons make it imperative to monitor responses to gluten products over time. Below are the side effects of celiac disease and obtaining an official diagnosis from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.

Signs of Celiac Disease:

  • Abdominal pain 
  • Constipation 
  • Chronic diarrhea 
  • Bloating 

These are some signs that celiac disease may be present in the body. If you are experiencing these symptoms and have other autoimmune disorders, seek a doctor. In addition, if there is a history of celiac disease in your family, it is beneficial to be tested twice a year to see if any change has occurred. These tests can range from blood tests to endoscopy and potentially eating gluten products over a few weeks.

Because of the inflammation, some individuals opt to be gluten-free without a celiac diagnosis. As concerns grow, more food choices are available that are gluten-free, but we still have some work regarding the accessibility of those food choices. Please visit the HUED directory to find a primary care provider or specialist to navigate a gluten-free diet and celiac disease.

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Site content is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

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Skin Cancer: How to Identify and When to See a Professional

May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month. Despite phrases that continue to uphold the youthfulness of melanated skin, “Black don’t crack,” it is also essential to remember that melanated skin can also get sick. Research shows more people are diagnosed with skin cancer than any other cancer combined. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, 1 in 5 Americans will develop skin cancer by 70. The numbers show that skin cancer is more prevalent than many believe.

As melanated individuals, we must understand that our natural skin can only protect us for so long. Therefore, we need to be taking care of our skin health which also looks like covering our skin and utilizing sunscreen. Studies show that the 5-year survival rate of melanoma in Black people is 25% less than in White people due to cancer developing in more hidden areas.

Skin cancer develops from constant exposure to the sun and often starts with a small brown or red blemish (sometimes white) where the cancer is growing. An individual might also begin to see moles appear within the surrounding area. 

Parts of the body such as the arms, legs, chest, and face continuously within the sun will be impacted. However, places such as the top of the head, palms of hands, toes, and ears are also susceptible to developing skin cancer. Therefore, it is essential to look over your skin daily and note any changes in texture or new blemishes. Understanding the different forms of skin cancer below can also help bring awareness and help others seek treatment.

Primary type 3 forms of Skin Cancer as outlined by Cleveland Clinic:

Melanoma

  • The most severe form of skin cancer spreads throughout your body, even within your internal programs.
  • A Brown patch, bump, or mole is itchy, bleeding, or changing size.
  • If you start to notice patches or moles changing size and bleeding on parts of skin most at risk for sun exposure, seek a professional.

Basal cell carcinoma

  • The most common sun-exposed skin cancer appears on the parts of bodies most in the sun—legs, arms, face, etc.
  • Cancer is slow progressing and usually does not spread to other parts of the body.

Squamous cell carcinoma

  • Most common in sun-exposed areas and can impact mucus membranes and genitalia.
  • The skin may become very rough and scaly and peel or itch and become crusty. One can also notice a firm pink or red nodule on the skin.

If you notice any changes to your skin, visit a dermatologist for an evaluation. A procedure such as a biopsy removes a sample of the tissues to evaluate. If cancer is presented in the skin, operations such as Mohs surgery or cryotherapy may be performed. 

It is important to remember that the sooner an evaluation is done, the sooner skin cancer can be treated. It is also critical that we remember to take care of our skin and stop unnecessary skin exposure daily. Yes, melanated people, you can still take that picture of yourself sunkissed and quickly head back inside or put a hat on.

Melanated skin also no longer has to wonder what type of skin cancers look on their skin. Thanks to Vaseline x HUEDs database “See My Skin,” photos of different skin conditions such as cancer and eczema are available for review. In addition, See My Skin, a dermatologist-backed platform, was created, so those with melanated skin no longer have to wonder about their skin conditions.

Keeping your skin covered, sunscreen, hats, shades, and platforms like See My Skin are ways to ensure lasting healthy skin. Also, find a dermatologist who knows your skin needs under the directory at HUED. Summer may be approaching, but that doesn’t mean sun safety for your skin gets put on the back burner.

Stay connected to us on Instagram @HUEDCO

Site content is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

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The Doctor That Listens

The last week of April is Patient Experience Week, celebrated with patients showing appreciation for their healthcare providers. So often looks like thank you notes or encouraging patients to leave reviews about healthcare providers. As we celebrate and thank our doctors this week, it is essential to shed light on how to increase the rate of positive patient and provider relationships.

Family Medicine for America’s Health (FMAHealth) conducted a campaign and found that 89% of Americans felt it was essential to have a physician who knows their background and family history.  However, many adults within Black and Latinx communities are more likely to lack the health coverage for a primary doctor compared to their white counterparts.

Studies also show that less than 5% of doctors are Black, and less than that 9% are Hispanic and Latino. Patients with a provider within the same race and ethnic demographic are more likely to rate a better overall experience. 

When sitting with these numbers, it is clear that Black and Latinx communities are most likely not seeing a doctor due to a lack of insurance and finances. The ones with access to medical treatment are likely being seen by white male doctors. When looking at the history of Black and Latinx populations as patients tend not to value our voices and do not give us the proper care we need.

There is also a continuous lack of information given to patients regarding their health, so the language of how to ask questions and adequately advocate is often limited. It is vital to continue pushing for diversity within the medical field and educate providers on the populations often disregarded in the room. However, it is equally and often more critical to equip patients with the proper tools to find, question, and form dialogue with their providers. 

Many times that looks like being able to see conditions on people who look like you, which is why Vaseline and HUED created See My Skin. This database powered by a team of dermatologists shows images of what certain skin conditions look like on melanated skin. Databases like this are essential because, let’s say, someone believes they are struggling with eczema but has never seen what that looks like on melanated skin.

If we can see it, we can start to advocate.

Other ways we can all step into this call to action to create healthier and more collaborative relationships with our healthcare providers:

  1. If you need a healthcare provider, visit HUED, look through our directory, and find a doctor that aligns with you. 
  2. Speak with your family about any medical conditions that are in the family. The conversation can give you a better sense of what conditions you may be monitoring.
  3. Look for insurance providers that work with you! For example, Medicare is a government insurance program that offers affordable plans for those who require financial assistance.
  4. Keep a journal of any health concerns you face with correlating dates and times so you do not forget when visiting your primary doctor.
  5. If you have a positive relationship with your doctor, leave them a review! Yes, supporting Black and Latinx businesses is also in the medical field.

Let’s go over that last point one more time “leave a review” the best compliment is referrals and word of mouth. If you have a positive relationship with your doctor, let them know that and share it on their website or reviews online. Eliminating the disparities in our care also looks like uplifting those doing the work daily.

HUED is committed to eliminating health disparities and improving overall patient outcomes for Black, Latinx, and Indigenous people. How do we do that? By designing equity-based education, enabling access to culturally sensitive healthcare providers, and empowering patients to make data-informed decisions about their healthcare. We offer a directory that connects Black, Latinx, and Indigenous patients with culturally humble medical providers.

Stay connected with us on Instagram @HUEDCO, and do not forget to subscribe to our newsletter! We would not want you to miss any new research or blogs.

Site content is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

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The Quality Skincare You Deserve    

Skin is our largest organ. It plays a vital role in our overall health by functioning as a protective barrier between our bodies and harmful elements in the outside world, such as bacteria, viruses, yeast, parasites, pollution, and ultraviolet (UV) light damage. Any skin problem, whether a rash, growth, or disease process, affects your skin’s ability to function correctly and negatively impacts overall health, economic viability, social life, and self-esteem. It is important to remember that having healthy skin is a right, not a privilege.

The population of the United States is becoming increasingly diverse; however, diversity in the healthcare workforce does not mirror this demographic shift. The lack of diversity in our healthcare workforce is problematic at many levels. Insights have shown that having a doctor who looks like you can result in better communication, improved access and compliance with treatment, and ultimately a better outcome. While that isn’t always the option or necessary, it’s equally important that physicians understand the cultural differences needs of patients. When developing treatments to address the unique concerns of patients with skin of color, it’s also essential to have a diverse group of researchers that represent the audience. Lastly, clinical trials must include patients with skin of color to help provide invaluable information for the development of future treatments. 

The skin of color and textured hair has unique characteristics that require the cultural competency of healthcare practitioner in skin and hair care practices for successful outcomes. Yet, according to a 2012 report, 47 % of dermatologists felt that their medical training didn’t adequately prepare them to treat melanin-rich skin, and a 2008 study found that only 12.2% of dermatology training programs had a rotation in which residents gained specific experience in treating patients with skin of color. 

While there are several efforts to address the gaps of representation for skin of color, like Vaseline’s See My Skin, there is still work. For example, within the US, 12% of the population is African American, while only 3% of the board-certified dermatologists in the US are African American. In addition, for the Hispanic community, only 4.2% of dermatologists are of Hispanic origin compared with 16.3% in the general US population.

Having more Black and Hispanic Dermatologists is crucial; however, understanding specific cultural needs should be a must for all dermatologists and healthcare physicians. This begins with a commitment to recruit and retain minority academic faculty, confronting institutional racism, and providing leadership opportunities throughout the medical, educational system. While there is still work to be done, the ASDS (American Society of Dermatologic Surgery) has established a DEI workgroup and Rise Up Mentorship program to match current dermatology residents with practicing mentors who look like them. 

This lack of diversity impacts every level of training, from having teachers in medical school that represent a diverse group of people – this includes advisors and mentors, who guide and supports the Dermatology residency application process and career trajectory. In addition, fewer dermatologists in positions of influence in the exam room, the lab, and the boardroom negatively impact the development and implementation of products and treatments to serve people of color. 

While we know there is a lot of work to help close the gap in skin equity, how can you, as a patient, ensure you get the quality care you deserve? 

Resources offered by Vaseline and HUED’s partnership allow people of color to connect with physicians trained to provide you with optimal care. Please visit the physician finder tool to search for a dermatologist near you. If you are in the North Carolina area, you can also book an appointment at my practice, Skin Wellness Dermatology. Once you have chosen a Dermatologist, consider using Vaseline’s guide to prepare you for your dermatologist visit

References

  1. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/51430402_Skin_of_color_education_in_dermatology_residency_programs_Does_residency_training_reflect_the_changing_demographics_of_the_United_States
  2. Shen MJ et al. J Racial Ethn Health Disparities 2018 Feb;5(1):117-140.
  3. Kirch  DG, Nivet  M.  Increasing diversity and inclusion in medical school to improve the health of all.  J Healthc Manag. 2013;58(5):311-313.
  4. Bodenheimer  T, Sinsky  C.  From triple to quadruple aim: care of the patient requires consideration of the provider.  Ann Fam Med. 2014;12(6):573-576. 
  5. https://www.sidnet.org/content/uploads/2021/01/Increasing-Racial-and-Ethnic.pdf

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The Health Disparities Blocking Our Care (Part 1)

According to the CDC, Health Disparities are “defined as preventable differences in the burden of disease, injury, violence, or opportunities to achieve optimal health experienced by socially disadvantaged populations.” 

The rise of Black maternal mortality and the constant dismissiveness of childhood abuse as a health issue are examples of health disparities in the medical system.  These disparities are categorized by a lack of sustainable resources in marginalized communities, such as access to healthy food and clean water.  Below is an illustration from the Kaiser Family Foundation that gives an in-depth overview of what is defined as a health disparity.

Kaiser Family Foundation 

Community identities such as gender, race, ethnicity, and sexual orientation are often a crossfire of health disparities. As illustrated below, marginalized communities of color continue to have a gap between their white counterparts in car

Kaiser Family Foundation

The questions become how can we make ourselves aware of the disparities in our system, and how can we advocate for our individual and collective health? 

The answer is to listen and learn from the research about the medical implications of health disparities and look back at the social oppressions and their impact. 

Economic Stability 

  • The wage gap in marginalized communities of color and lack of employment benefits can prevent individuals from having adequate insurance to navigate healthcare.
  • The rise in debt does not allow for the financial freedom to offer other healthcare options.

Neighbors and Physical Environment 

  • Community redlining can impact the quality of providers that are within the community.
  • Lack of transportation impacts the ability to get healthy food and proper healthcare.

Education 

  • Lack of childhood educational opportunities and healthy after-school care.
  • Lack of information about health in both childhood and adulthood.

Food

  • Lack of food can create an unhealthy relationship with food and makes no room for healthy eating.
  • In marginalized communities of color, corner stores and bodegas are the centers for food and medication.

Community, Safety, and Context 

  • Community is public health, and lack of community engagement can lead to isolation and further cause a decline in mental health.
  • The lack of healthcare professionals researching the issues that impact the community creates a decline in community building.

Health Care System

  • The lack of culturally respectful and competent healthcare providers doesn’t allow for the healthy patient and provider relationships.
  • Lack of making language barriers more accessible.

These disparities are ingrained oppressions in our communities! It is not enough to just be a “good doctor.” It takes an active understanding of the world many marginalized people of color navigate. We challenge providers to dive deeper into the communities around them and issues impacting others in the US and globally. We also empower patients to ask the hard questions and continue learning about the needs of their body and their community.

In addition, during the summer of 2022, HUED will be launching its E-learning pilot course centering on cultural competency. This program will equip care seekers and providers with the information needed to understand how these health detriments impact us individually and as a community.  

Stay connected to us on Instagram @HUEDCO and subscribe to our newsletter. 

Site content is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

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When the Game Overtakes Your Life

The Game is Life is a phrase often used to describe the bond between men and sports it illustrates in the all-encompassing idea that sports are your life. Sports have been given to Black children and adolescent as an avenue for success for decades with not all opportunities resulting in fame or financial gain. Many are led down a path of low security and even traumatic injury to their body and most specifically their brain.

Concussions are one brain injury that is very common in contact sports. The CDC estimates that 10% of athletes will face a concussion in a sports season. Concussions are mild traumatic brain injuries that can cause long-term and permanent damage to someone’s neurological ways of thinking over time. Memory is one symptom of MTBI, and other symptoms such as anger and sensitivity to light can also happen.

Black men make up a large number of our NBA and NFL teams but often go missed or undiagnosed when faced with athletic injuries. Studies have shown that there is a higher percentage of White men diagnosed with concussions than compared to Black men. Black patients also do not have the same private insurance as White patients and quality care can be impacted. At both the professional and recreational level there is a lack of believing the pain Black men are facing and clear racial differences in both diagnosis and treatment.

Black men are very much exploited with sports at all levels from professional, collegiate, to recreational and this also leads to poor health. In the National Football League, Black men made up 70 percent of the players in 2018, while White men were 70 percent of the coaches and about 100 percent of top executive positions.

The individuals holding these positions of power will often push athletes past the pain and sometimes intervene themselves when it comes to accessing medical treatment. Creating a world where the sport is the only thing that is being focused on does not help these athletes to find love and enjoyment in other places. So when injuries happen they oftentimes put a mental strain on which can create behaviors that are overly aggressive and even abusive.

Brain injuries are preventable in sports it just comes to placing the wellbeing of the athlete above the love of profit. It also takes giving Black men with the space to feel pain and seek medical treatment for their injuries and get a clear diagnosis. Below is a list of ways to lessen the occurrence of brain damage while playing sports:

Ways to Stop Brain Damage:

  • Practice sportsmanlike conduct and avoid purposefully hitting someone in the head.
  • Wear helmets, mouthguards, and all other gear required for sport.
  • Almost half of concussions in high school football happen during running plays.
    • Marar M, McIlvain N, Fields S, Comstock RD. Epidemiology of Concussions Among United States High School Athletes in 20 Sports. Amer J Sports Med, April 2012, 40(4):747-755.  
  • Proper eating and sleeping.
  • Stop playing sports until fully recovered 
  • Limiting full contact practices.
  • Getting tested by YOUR primary care physician not always the one provided. Search the HUED directory now to find a providor that works for you.

Being constantly pushed to entertain and find fame takes so much out of an individual both physically and mentally. Continuing to put your own health first will allow for the quality of life you are use to as an individual.

Stay connected to us on Instagram @HUEDCO and subscribe to our newsletter. 

Site content is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

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