Cleveland Clinic’s Skin of Color Center bridges racial divide in dermatology

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Published: Sep. 2, 2021 at 12:59 PM EDT
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - The Cleveland Clinic has opened up the Skin of Color Center.

It’s part of their dermatology department and it is dedicated to emphasizing skincare for people of color.

For many people of color, going to get their skin examined by a doctor isn’t a part of their regular check-up routine.

“I think some of it is a cultural thing,” explained Dr. Kiyanna Williams. “If no one in your family is going to see a dermatologist, then you’re less likely to as well.”

In fact, after speaking with Dr. Williams, the section head of the Skin of Color Center, it seems like a lot of her patients of color don’t come to see her until things have gotten really bad.

“It can be underdiagnosed, or sometimes diagnosed later, and that can affect treatment strategy. So, there’s a difference in patients of color and those who aren’t,” said Dr. Williams.

Is there a way to get people of color to pay attention to their skin and seek out help before it’s too late?

Dr. Williams believes the Skin of Color Center is the first step.

The center has four main doctors running the operations, and all four are of color.

Their goal is to make dermatology services more available. They believe access and knowledge are big reasons why people of color don’t step into their offices as much as they should.

The team has specialists for all of your needs, including acne scarring and eczema, which are two things people of color deal with regularly and sometimes will go untreated.

“If you see a spot and it’s not going away, it’s looking different, its bleeding, itching. burning, those are all signs to come in,” said Dr. Williams.

But instead of coming in, many people are self-medicating, using remedies passed down through their families. But some of the most common remedies aren’t always the most helpful.

“Please stop using Neosporin, the triple antibiotic ointments,” warned Williams. “I too grew up where my mom had me put it on everything, but it can actually make things itchier, so just throw it away.”

One thing Dr. Williams says you should keep nearby is sunscreen. She says it’s the key to preventing a lot of the skin issues their patients deal with.

“Everyone, despite skin color, should be wearing sunscreen, every single day, even in the winter,” said Williams.

The Skin of Color Center is officially open. You can book an appointment here.

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