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Dermatologists Turn Focus to Ethnic Skin Conditions

Posted: November 27, 2006

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"We do both basic science research to understand specific differences in hair and skin and also talk directly to consumers to understand their common problems," Dr. Barbosa said.

Dark skin has many advantages, she said. Pigment protects the skin from the sun's damaging effects, and some research shows that darker skin is stronger structurally as well.

But dark skin can react differently than white skin to cosmetic treatments and medications. It is more prone to discoloration after injury, and more inclined to keloids, a type of scar that can be unsightly and sometimes itchy or painful.

A doctor unfamiliar with keloids might try to cut them out, which can cause them to return larger, said Dr. Heather Woolery-Lloyd, director of ethnic skin care at the University of Miami Cosmetic Center.

"I see patients all the time who've had keloids cut out on their shoulders. The doctors didn't realize it wasn't the best choice," Dr. Woolery-Lloyd said.