BOSTON (CBS) — Finding a skin specialist well-versed in conditions that affect people of color can be a challenge, but a local dermatology program is addressing that need one patient at a time.
Eleven years ago, 51-year-old Sinnamon Crump started to feel pain and swelling in the back of her head and then her hair began to break and fall out.READ MORE: Boston Mayoral Candidates Hit The Streets On First Day Of Early Voting
“I was having bald patches specifically in this part of my hair,” said Crump. “I would do anything to kind of cover it up.”
With updos and braids, her PCP and dermatologist told her it was probably from stress and to stop using chemical relaxers and hairstyles that put strain on the scalp. But nothing helped.
At wits end, the mother of three turned to Google and hit the jackpot.
Dr. Deborah Scott helped launch The Skin of Color Dermatology Program at Brigham and Women’s Hospital 10 years ago to address the skin and hair need specifically of patients of color.
“As a group, we understand that all skin and all hair are not equal,” said Dr. Scott. “Patients would come to me, because they had seen [dermatologists] who didn’t look like me or them and told them, ‘I don’t know what to do with your hair. I don’t understand your hair. I don’t know why your skin is acting like that.’ I found it not only offensive, but upsetting. We wanted to provide a setting where we knew no patient would experience that.”READ MORE: Body Of Missing Five-Year-Old Elijah Lewis Believed To Be Found In Abington
Scott also added, “Darker skin responds differently to inflammation and to irritation and skin disorders may appear differently in darker skin than in lighter skin.”
Right away, Crump got a diagnosis. It was central centrifugal cicatricial alopecia (CCCA).
“It’s a type of hair loss that is more likely to affect women of color and particularly women of African descent,” said Brigham dermatologist Dr. Sotonye Imadojemu.
With a combination of creams, oils, shampoos, and injections, her condition has improved. And she no longer feels like her hair loss was her her fault.MORE NEWS: Richard Seymour's Full Patriots Hall Of Fame Induction Speech
“I think they’re great,” said Crump. “And they can help a lot of people feel better about themselves.”