Not recognizing this difference in hue may explain why some doctors confuse psoriasis with everyday skin irritation, eczema, a drug reaction, or even an infection in people of color, Dr. Robinson says. But there are other clues that may point to psoriasis.
For example, “you can touch the patient and feel that the inflamed area is usually warm,” says Dr. McKinley-Grant. A thorough dermatologist will ask about your family history, as the condition may (but not always) have genetic roots, she adds. If in doubt, your doctor may also take a small biopsy (a skin sample) and examine it to be sure of the diagnosis and rule out any other skin conditions.
2. Rare types of psoriasis tend to be more common in people of color.
Although plaque psoriasis is the most common form of the disease, “there are also rare subtypes that appear more frequently in certain racial and ethnic groups,” says Dr. Robinson. For example, researchers have found that pustular psoriasis, which appears as inflamed, scaly, pus-filled bumps4– is more common in Asian and Hispanic communities.5
Asians are also more likely to have erythrodermic psoriasis,5 which covers the body with a red rash resembling a burn and can be fatal if not treated quickly. Additionally, Asians and blacks tend to be more vulnerable to scalp psoriasis, in which patches appear around the scalp, hairline, forehead, neck, and on the skin around the ears.6
This is important to know because getting an accurate diagnosis can be complicated if you’re dealing with a rarer form of psoriasis in white people, says Dr. Robinson, especially if you’re seeing a doctor who isn’t experienced in treating skin. darker. . (You can check out our resources below to help you find a doctor who is well versed in dealing with darker skin tones.)
3. Some treatments may not be ideal for your skin color and hair type.
Although there is still no cure for psoriasis, there are many treatment options to help control symptoms, no matter how much melanin is in your skin. These include prescription creams and ointments, phototherapy, oral and injectable medications, scalp oils and shampoos, among others.
However, special considerations must be made for a few treatments. One, for example, is phototherapy, which involves exposing the skin to a controlled amount of ultraviolet light. “People with darker skin need higher doses of phototherapy for it to be effective,” says Dr. Takeshita. However, phototherapy can tan skin and darken unwanted dark spots, which people of color are especially susceptible to, according to the AAD. If this is the case for you, standing in a light box a few times a week may not be the best solution.
For scalp psoriasis, you also need to think about the natural texture of your hair, how often you prefer to wash it, and how you like to style it, says Dr. Robinson. Frequent shampooing with medicated formulas, which may be recommended in conjunction with oral medications, can help remove flakiness, but if your hair is dry or washing it often doesn’t fit into your hair care routine, it there are other options to help you. keep your hair as happy as possible.