Approximately 80% of the world’s population has darkly pigmented skin. Differences in the presentation of skin conditions have been noted in darkly pigmented skin; however, educational materials noting these differences are often brief and insufficient. The role of physical therapists in the accurate assessment of the integumentary system throughout the spectrum of skin tones is imperative to equitably address the needs of all patients. After searching for articles supporting the topic, it was found that little research has been done to assess patients with dark skin. Searches on CINAHL and Medline turned up 11 and 39 results respectively, using the terms “dark skin” and “assessment.” Of these articles, published within the last 10 years, none were systematic reviews. PTs have a clinical obligation to recognize key differences in darkly pigmented integument or risk missing key diagnoses. Educational materials that document erythema, pallor, cyanosis, blanching, subepidermal moisture, cardinal signs of inflammation, and changes upon aging in persons with darker pigmented skin are vital to prepare PTs for skin variations observed in the clinic. Clinical exposure to patients with darker pigmented skin furthers the clinicians' assessment and develops a framework in which the clinician can identify dermatological disparities between ethnic/minority groups.
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