Picking right dermatologist is essential to getting the right care for hair, skin of color

FORT WASHINGTON, Pa (WPVI) -- The skin is the body's largest organ, and it's as individual as your fingerprint.

It's vital to find a dermatologist who understands your hair and skin, especially if you have skin of color.

Like more than half of all women, Yvette Styer of Mt. Airy has had bouts of hair loss.

"Maybe about 10-15 years ago in the middle of my head, and then within the past three years, I noticed some changes - hair thinning, around the temples," she told us.

When neither over-the-counter products nor ones recommended by a stylist helped, Yvette sought medical help.

Both times, she went to African American dermatologists, like Dr. Candrice Heath of Temple Health.

"I went to someone who I felt would be understanding of hair - the way I wear my hair, comfortable touching my hair, asking questions, and not having to explain, bring someone up to speed on what an African American woman may do with her hair," she explains.

Dr. Heath says the differences in hair for Black and brown patients can go down to the roots.

"Our follicles are even shaped differently," she notes.

So hair and scalp disorders like Styer 's alopecia are more common. As for skin, there's a greater frequency of eczema.

"Even the tendency for the skin to become dry is also biologically linked as well in patients who have darker skin tone," says Dr. Heath.

She says she's seen the damage caused when cosmetic procedures aren't matched to skin color.

"What if you have a laser or chemical peel, or even an acne treatment that causes irritation of the skin? It can lead to scarring that takes years to reverse," she warns.

Although tests didn't show why Styer lost hair, Dr. Heath's combination of topical and injectable treatments is working.

"I'm grateful that the regimen she gave me, I follow. Because I have noticed the difference," Yvette says.

Dr. Heath says sun protection is important for every skin type, but for different reasons.

For light complexions, skin cancer is the concern. For darker ones, sun can make skin pigments hyperactive, worsening dark spots.
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