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Why is skin disease often misdiagnosed and untreated in Black patients?

Why is skin disease often misdiagnosed and untreated in Black patients?

PR Newswire

OAKLAND, Calif., Feb. 21, 2024 /PRNewswire/ -- Skin disease in people of color is under-diagnosed, often goes untreated and is more deadly, according to the latest research.

For most of history, medical students studying dermatology have been shown pictures of diseases on white skin only, leading to vast inequities in how Black and brown people are treated for skin disorders.

Dr. Leon Clark, dermatology chief at Alameda Health System (AHS), is trying to change that. He founded AHS' dermatology division in 2020 and focuses on diseases that more commonly affect Black and Latinx populations.

Clark was in residency training when he noticed Black patients coming in with treatable diseases – sometimes covering 90 percent of their skin – that had gone untreated and undiagnosed. Patients said previous doctors had ignored their complaints. Those doctors likely hadn't been trained to identify diseases such as eczema in darker-colored skin.

"Someone who's not familiar with what that looks like in Black skin may say, 'Oh this is mild,'" Clark said. "It affects treatment in terms of how aggressively you treat it. I see it all the time, unfortunately."

There is now a national conversation around updating training materials to include a wider range of skin colors, as well as diversifying the workforce. But a lot of work remains to be done.

Clark is available for interviews about this critical health issue affecting our community, and what is being done to address it.

CONTACT: Eleanor Ajala

Manager, Media and Communications

Alameda Health System

(510) 421-9222

About Alameda Health System

Alameda Health System (AHS) is a leading public, integrated health care provider and medical training institution recognized for its world-class patient and family-centered care. AHS provides comprehensive medical treatment, health promotion and disease prevention throughout our integrated network of hospitals, clinics and health services. AHS includes three acute care hospitals, a psychiatric hospital, four ambulatory care wellness centers, five post-acute facilities, and the only adult Level 1 Trauma Center and psychiatric emergency department in Alameda County. AHS is committed to promoting wellness and optimizing the health of the community through the mission of caring, healing, teaching and serving all. For more information, visit

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SOURCE Alameda Health System

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