Top dermatologic conditions in patients of color: an analysis of nationally representative data

J Drugs Dermatol. 2012 Apr;11(4):466-73.


Background: Some dermatologic disorders are known to be much more common in patients of color, but the leading dermatologic disorders in patients of color have not yet been described on the basis of nationally representative data.

Purpose: To determine the leading dermatologic disorders for each major racial and ethnic group in the United States.

Methods: We queried the National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey (NAMCS) for the leading diagnoses in patient visits to U.S. dermatologists from 1993 to 2009. The leading diagnoses were tabulated for each racial and ethnic group, and the top conditions were compared between groups. In a separate analysis, visits for skin conditions regardless of physician specialty were analyzed for leading diagnoses in each racial and ethnic group.

Results: The top five diagnoses for African-American patients in dermatology clinics were acne, unspecified dermatitis or eczema, seborrheic dermatitis, atopic dermatitis, and dyschromia. For Asian or Pacific Islander patients, the top five were acne, unspecified dermatitis or eczema, benign neoplasm of skin, psoriasis, and seborrheic keratosis. By contrast, in Caucasian patients, the top five were actinic keratosis, acne, benign neoplasm of skin, unspecified dermatitis or eczema, and nonmelanoma skin cancer. In Hispanic patients of any race, the leading diagnoses were acne, unspecified dermatitis or eczema, psoriasis, benign neoplasm of skin, and viral warts. When the leading dermatologic diagnoses across all physician specialties were assessed, the top diagnoses for African-Americans were unspecified dermatitis or eczema, acne, dermatophytosis of scalp and beard, sebaceous cyst, and cellulitis or abscess; for Asians or Pacific Islanders were unspecified dermatitis or eczema, acne, atopic dermatitis, urticaria, and psoriasis; and for Caucasians were acne, unspecified dermatitis or eczema, actinic keratosis, viral warts, and sebaceous cyst. For Hispanics of any race, they were unspecified dermatitis or eczema, acne, sebaceous cyst, viral warts, and cellulitis or abscess. For a sole diagnosis of a dermatologic condition, only 28.5% of African-Americans' visits and 23.9% of Hispanics' visits were to dermatologists, as compared to 36.7% for Asians and Pacific Islanders and 43.2% for Caucasians.

Limitations: The data are based on numbers of ambulatory care visits rather than numbers of patients. Data on race or ethnicity were not collected for some patients.

Conclusions: Several dermatologic disorders are much more commonly seen in patients of color. Acne and unspecified dermatitis or eczema are in the top five for all major U.S. racial and ethnic groups. There may be an opportunity to improve the care of patients of color by ensuring they have equal access to dermatologists.

MeSH terms

  • Ambulatory Care / statistics & numerical data
  • Continental Population Groups / statistics & numerical data*
  • Ethnic Groups / statistics & numerical data*
  • Health Care Surveys
  • Humans
  • Skin Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Skin Diseases / ethnology
  • Skin Pigmentation*
  • United States / epidemiology