Mar 18, 2020
The Fitzpatrick skin type (FST) often is used as a proxy for
constitutive skin color, which can lead to confusion. Dr. DeLeo
speaks with Dr. Susan Taylor and her colleagues Olivia Ware and
about the racial limitations of FST in clinical practice. They
discuss other classification systems for assessment of skin type
and highlight the challenges of creating one system to classify an
infinite number of skin tones.
We also bring you the latest in dermatology news and
1. Paper from Wuhan on dermatology and coronavirus
2. Patients accept artificial intelligence in skin cancer
3. Dermatologists best at finding work satisfaction in the
Things you will learn in this episode:
- In its early stages, the Fitzpatrick scale was designed to
guide dosage for patients undergoing phototherapy by determining
who burned and who tanned on exposure to UV light.
The Fitzpatrick skin type has been incorrectly associated
with visual stereotypical skin color cues, most likely because
there is no other widely adopted classification system for skin
color that can be applied to all skin.
- In clinical practice, many providers inappropriately use the
FST to describe patients’ constitutive skin color or race/ethnicity
rather than their propensity to burn.
- The FST is automatically included in the physical examination
portion of many standardized note templates, even for patients
without phototherapy needs.
- Providers who do not identify as having skin of color may be
more likely to use FST to describe constitutive skin color,
compared with providers with skin of color.
- A more detailed and diverse system to describe constitutive
skin color in clinical practice is needed. “The world is becoming
so diverse, and there are so many different hues, races,
ethnicities, and as dermatologists in the forefront we need to be
able to identify pigmentary disorders, identify who will have
adverse reactions to a variety of procedures, and thinking about
how to do that is really the first step in accomplishing our goal,”
explains Dr. Taylor.
Hosts: Nick Andrews; Vincent A. DeLeo, MD
(University of Southern California, Los Angeles)
C. Taylor, MD (University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia);
Ware (Howard University, Washington);
Jessica E. Dawson (University of Washington, Seattle)
Show notes by: Alicia Sonners, Melissa Sears,
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