Skin of color, also known as ethnic skin, is described as skin of individuals of African, Asian, Hispanic, Native-American, Middle Eastern, and Pacific Island backgrounds. Differences in hair morphology, hair grooming, cultural practices, and susceptibility to keloid scarring exist within these populations and have been implicated in hair, scalp, and skin disorders. Acne keloidalis (AK), central centrifugal cicatricial alopecia (CCCA), dissecting cellulitis of the scalp (DCS), pseudofolliculitis barbae (PFB), traction alopecia (TA), and keloids are the most prevalent follicular and scarring disorders in skin of color. They have been associated with disfigurement, permanent hair loss, emotional distress, and decreased quality of life. Hair grooming practices, such as the use of chemical relaxers, heat straightening, and tight braiding and weaving can cause scalp irritation and follicular damage and are linked to the pathogenesis of some of these conditions. Consequently, patient education and behavior modifications are integral to the prevention and management of these disorders. Scarring disorders are also of concern in ethnic populations. Keloid scarring is more prevalent in individuals of African, Asian, and Hispanic descent. The scarring alopecia CCCA is almost exclusively seen in patients of African descent. Therapeutic regimens such as intralesional corticosteroids, surgical excision, and laser therapy can be effective for these follicular and scarring disorders, but carry a risk of dyspigmentation and keloid scarring. Ethnic skin and hair may present unique challenges to the clinician, and knowledge of these differences is essential to providing quality care.
ASJC Scopus subject areas