The Importance of Recognising Racial Bias in Trichology

March 29, 2023

This week, Pro Hair caught up with Root Cause Clinical Trichologist and Board Advisor, Jacky van Driel-Nguene, on the racial bias that exists in trichology and healthcare. 

“Being able to recognise the clinical presentation of scalp and hair conditions on clients of all racial backgrounds ensures healthcare providers can deliver a quality service to ALL who need help. At Root Cause Clinical, we provide Continuing Professional Development (CPD) training to all our associate trichologists to ensure we are aware of racial bias.”

Why is it so essential for trichologists to recognise scalp and hair conditions on all skin tones and hair types?

It is crucial that trichologists and dermatologists are able to offer a good quality service to clients of any gender, racial background, skin colour, or hair type; everybody deserves access to a healthy scalp and hair.

Unfortunately, most dermatology and trichology training programs are dispensed mainly with references to white or light-pigmented skin tones and straight-to-wavy hair types. When examining a client, an accurate diagnosis largely depends on the practitioner recognising clinical signs of scalp and hair conditions; this bears influence on the proposed treatment plan as well as the prognosis.

Lack of representation is part of the problem.

Despite the increasing diversity of demographics in Europe and the U.K., it is still quite common for dermatologists and trichologists to have almost no experience in recognising patterns and signs of disease on darker skin.

Much of the training that takes place today only recognises conditions on white skin tones, putting non-white, afro-textured-haired clients at a disadvantage. Some conditions, such as central centrifugal cicatricial alopecia (CCCA) and acne keloidalis nuchae (AKN), are more prevalent in darker skin and may present differently than they do on whiter skin.

How can we resolve this issue, especially in trichology?

As telehealth services gain traction, it is now even more critical that trichologists and other healthcare practitioners have adequate competency in recognising and treating a diverse range of scalp and hair conditions.

“There are many other doctors and healthcare practitioners worldwide working towards the same goal of equality in the medical field, but it sometimes feels like we are screaming in an echo chamber. At Root Cause Clinical, we aim to empower our trichologists with the knowledge to increase their confidence in diagnosing scalp and hair conditions on all skin tones and hair types.”