North Texas GME Research Forum 2024



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North Texas


Medical City Fort Worth



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skin pigmentation, eumelanin, skin of color, Fitzpatrick scale


Dermatology | Diagnosis | Medicine and Health Sciences


Background: Precise description of the skin is a pillar of dermatology. For dermatologists, skin pigment is akin to a ‘vital sign’ in that it represents a basic, yet illuminating, piece of information for each patient. The current method used to describe skin color is the Fitzpatrick scale. The Fitzpatrick scale was designed to measure skin burning and the scale is inadequate for precise measurement of skin color in a diverse population. The prevalence of its use perpetuates harmful and outdated structures and contributes to health disparity. For those reasons, there is a critical need for initiatives that evaluate the current system and innovations which pursue equitable practice. Purpose: In our present study, we aim to develop a novel, accurate, reproducible, and equitable skin pigment scale. Our second aim is to evaluate a unique method to take objective measurements with a smartphone camera. Our goal is to create a skin melanin scale that can serve as a new ‘vital sign’ for dermatologists, researchers, and clinicians to describe skin pigmentation. Methods: An 11-point color scale has been developed that is based on a parameter that approximates melanin. This pigment scale will be reproduced on a physical card which can be placed on a participant's inner arm as a direct comparison for the participant's skin . Both the investigator and participant will choose the scale value that they perceive to match the participant’s skin most closely. Next, a color calibration chart will be used to color-correct photos taken of the same area of the participant's skin with a smartphone camera to measure the skin pigment value. Both measurements of skin pigment, those taken with the card and smartphone camera, will be compared measurements of skin pigment taken by a colorimeter, a pigment-measuring device. We will also compare these measurements to participant's Fitzpatrick skin types as well as self-identified race and ethnicity. Results: We anticipate recruiting n=200 subjects beginning March, 2024, collecting data including measures using skin pigment scale and colorimeter, self-reported information, and photos documenting skin pigmentation. The study team will recruit from a diverse group of participants throughout the North Texas region to ensure equity in subject selection. Conclusion: This novel method of measuring and classifying skin pigment could pose as a quick, accessible, and objective tool for practitioners to use in clinical settings.

Original Publisher

HCA Healthcare Graduate Medical Education

Development and Validation of a Novel Skin Pigment Scale



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