Abena Boakye dealt with adult acne for years, trying medical treatments that didn’t provide lasting effects and over-the-counter products that didn’t work for her.
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“I was embarrassed about the discoloration and scarring on my face,” she says. “It was time to do something about it.” That decision led Mrs. Boakye to the Multicultural Hair & Skin Center, part of Cleveland Clinic’s Department of Dermatology.
Specialized care is needed
There are only a few centers in the country focused on improving treatment outcomes of skin conditions that disproportionately affect multicultural patient populations, including African-Americans, Hispanics, Latinos, Asians and people of Middle Eastern descent.
Because darker skin and thicker, curlier hair react differently to skin procedures, cosmetic treatments and medications, specialized care is required. Cleveland Clinic’s Multicultural Hair & Skin Center provides dermatologic care, plastic surgery and aesthetic services tailored specifically to an individual’s natural skin color to achieve the best possible outcome.
The center treats a variety of conditions, from keloids – the excess growth of scar tissue – to mycosis fungoides, a skin lymphoma twice as prevalent in African-Americans as in Caucasians.
“There is a sense of relief when my patients realize help is available for conditions such as alopecia areata, female pattern balding and acne with scarring and discoloration,” says Angela Kyei, MD, Director of the Multicultural Hair & Skin Center. “These conditions, while not life-threatening, impact self-perception and self-confidence.”
Bringing culture into care
Mrs. Boakye is happy with the results of her treatment regimen. “It’s great to have a place that provides treatment to people with multicultural backgrounds. They understood what I was going through and made me feel so comfortable,” she says.
In addition, the center is working to gather a database of information about patients, including possible risk factors and history. The data, which will help determine prevalent dermatological conditions affecting multicultural populations, will be used to detect trends, patterns and insights that may lead to prevention and improvements in diagnosis and treatment.
“Culture is very important to improving health outcomes in medicine,” Dr. Kyei says. “A greater understanding will undoubtedly lead to better outcomes for patients.”