To the untrained eye, Psoriasis may resemble other skin conditions, such as eczema, Seborrheic Dermatitis, or even certain skin cancers. Although numerous skin conditions may cause dryness, itchiness, and skin patches, Psoriasis is a condition that has its own characteristics, causes, and treatments. Let’s break down what exactly is Psoriasis, how we can differentiate it from other skin conditions, and how we can treat Psoriasis with budget-friendly products.
Psoriasis, which comes from the Greek meaning ‘itchy condition,’ is an immune-mediated skin condition that occasionally causes itchy skin. People with Psoriasis have overactive immune systems that speed up the production and overgrowth of skin cells. The overproduction ultimately results in a build-up of skin cells on the face, body, and scalp. This is how the characteristic signs of skin patches and bumps are formed.
Although the exact mechanism behind this immune overstimulation is yet to be identified, we do know the key features of Psoriasis. This skin condition is genetic and can occur in both males and females. Stress, smoking, hormonal changes, and allergies can all trigger acute flares of Psoriasis. Symptoms usually start to develop in the late teens, between the ages of 15 – 20, but Psoriasis can arise at any age. Psoriasis is not confined to one skin type, tone, or texture, and people of all skin colors can be diagnosed with Psoriasis.
Now that we know the basics of Psoriasis, let’s take a look at how skin changes may manifest. There are 5 types of Psoriasis and as mentioned, changes can arise on the face, body, or scalp. The most common type is known as Plaque Psoriasis, which creates inflamed red patches and plaques. These plaques are usually covered with scales and mostly appear on the knees, elbows, back, and scalp. Other types of Psoriasis may appear anywhere on the body, even on the nails, feet, and eyelids.
Skin patches, plaques, and scales may vary in color and shape, and may manifest uniquely on different skin tones. For example, people with darker skin tones most commonly have dark brown or purplish-gray patches, while lighter skin tones usually have pink or red patches.
Similar plaque colors, raised skin texture, appearance of skin bumps, and crusty patches are reasons why Psoriasis and skin cancer are sometimes confounded. As subtypes exist in both Psoriasis and skin cancer, making the correct diagnosis between these two skin conditions is paramount.
This brings us to the next point. How can medical professionals diagnose Psoriasis? Along with conducting a thorough assessment of a patient’s family history, Board Certified Dermatologists also examine the skin, scalp, and nails for characteristic changes, signs, or noticeable patchiness. If the results are inconclusive, a small skin sample, known as a biopsy, will be taken for further investigation –- under a microscope.
Let’s say the results came back as positive for Psoriasis. What do we do now? Although the diagnosis may seem overwhelming to most, the good news is many types of Psoriasis can be managed at home with over-the-counter medications and ointments after treating the more severe stage with your dermatologist.
This skin condition can improve with skin products and ointments that hydrate and moisturize the skin. Emollients help trap the moisture inside the skin and they reduce the appearance of dry scales and patches. For example, the Vaseline Clinical Care Dry Hands Rescue is a great option for treating dry and rough skin on the hands and fingers. For larger skin areas, you can go for the Vaseline Intensive Care Deep Moisture Jelly Cream, which moisturizes extremely dry skin and protects the skin barrier. Along with hydrating skin products, reducing everyday stress, and maintaining a well-balanced diet can work to in minimizing acute flares of Psoriasis.
But as with any other skin condition, your optimal treatment regimen may be unique and different from most. It’s always best to consult with your Dermatologist and to create a treatment plan that works best for your specific skin condition and skincare needs. If you’re in need of finding a dermatologist, utilize Vaseline x HUED’s directory of dermatologists and practitioners to meet with a provider who understands the care that your skin needs.
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.
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:
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.
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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.
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.