With globalization and widespread immigration, physicians increasingly encounter patients from varying backgrounds and diverse customs. Although certain cultural practices are widely performed, there is limited medical literature describing their dermatologic and systemic effects and complications. Population diversity and sharing of traditions make it increasingly important for dermatologists to understand the role of cultural practices and recognize physiologic and pathologic sequelae. In addition, dermatologists are often adjured to assess skin findings that may be mistaken for abuse. Child abuse misdiagnosis can be traumatizing to all those involved, and immigrant families with limited English proficiency may have difficulty explaining their traditional practices. The first article of this 2-part continuing medical education series begins with a review of therapeutic cultural practices, including traditional Chinese medicine, Ayurveda, acupuncture, cupping, moxibustion, and coining, and the clinically relevant complications that may occur. Therapeutic practices can cause a range of complications, including contact dermatitis, heavy metal toxicity, and severe cutaneous adverse reactions.
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