Skin Deep is a new paediatric global collaborative project, launched in June 2020, to address the lack of skin tone diversity of paediatric medical education images. The project is led by Don’t Forget the Bubbles (DFTB) and the Royal London Hospital (RLH).
Skin Deep have developed a free, open-access bank of high-quality photographs of medical conditions in a range of skin tones for use by both healthcare professionals and the public. The aim is to reduce inequalities and improve education and patient care by ensuring that all children receive a timely diagnosis regardless of their skin colour.
Within paediatrics, the diagnosis of skin conditions and genetic syndromes relies on the recognition of characteristic features which can differ depending on skin tones. Despite this, the vast majority of medical textbooks and online resources only contain pictures of children or young people with light skin tones. Moreover, descriptions of rashes focus on redness or pallor, both of which are more difficult to recognise in darker skin tones or may not be present at all. This means that children with darker skin tones are often not diagnosed correctly or as quickly as those with lighter skin tones.
Skin Deep augments the work already taking place to address this issue and have successfully brought this issue into the spotlight. Examples include ‘Brown Skin Matters‘ by Ellen Margolis and ‘Mind the Gap: A handbook of clinical signs in Black and Brown skin‘ by UK medical student Malone Mukwende.
The Skin Deep team are calling on healthcare professionals and hospitals across the UK and the world to collaborate and be part of the project. They have developed a stream-lined process to setup the project at individual hospital sites, including the appropriate governance and consent processes to ensure patient confidentiality and secure transfer of photographs. This is already successfully in place at the Royal London Hospital paediatric emergency department and many other hospitals across the UK, Australia and South Africa.
Skin Deep resources
- Nolen L. How Medical Education Is Missing the Bull’s-eye. N Engl J Med. 2020; 382(26): 2489-2491.
- Mukwende M, Tamonv P, Turner M. Mind the Gap: A handbook of clinical signs in Black and Brown skin. St George’s, University of London. 1e 2020
- Margolis E. Brown Skin Matters. 2020 (Instagram)
- Skin of Colour Resource. Centre of Evidence Based Dermatology. University of Nottingham