On one of my recent flights, a nearby passenger was completely engulfed in TLC's Dr. Pimple Popper. I tend to steer clear of shows like that as I'm very queasy to medical procedures, but for some reason I couldn't stop watching. I couldn't believe that much "stuff" was inside people and I really admired Dr. Lee and her staff for changing people's lives by doing this work. I wanted to know what people color and residents here in Denver, Colorado are being seen for and what role dermatology plays in hair care. I had the pleasure of speaking with Denver local dermatology resident Chauncey Caldwell Barbulescu, M.D. to learn just that and more about the field of dermatology.
Dr. Chauncey completed her undergraduate education at Winona State in Minnesota. She then went on to complete medical school at the University of Central Florida’s College of Medicine in Orlando. She completed an internal medicine intern year at the University of Colorado, followed by a 2 year research fellowship in autoimmune hair loss and skin disorders. She is now in her 2nd year of dermatology residency. Dermatology residency includes one year of internal medicine training followed by 3 years of dermatology specific training. Her future plans include practicing general dermatology with a hair loss subspecialty clinic.
Why did you choose Dermatology as a field of practice?
I chose dermatology due to my interests in hair loss disorders and diseases affecting people with darker skin types. Hair and scalp disorders are among the 5 most common dermatologic diagnoses in the African American population. Often, by the time black women present to dermatology offices it is too late to restore hair re-growth, as scarring damage has already occurred. Skin disorders affecting people of color often come with barriers in diagnosis and treatment which includes late detection of malignancies, improper diagnoses due to appearance in skin of color and inadequate treatment options secondary to reactions in darker skin types. Having dermatologist who is familiar and adequately able to treat issues pertaining to all skin and hair types is imperative.
For those who are unfamiliar, what is Dermatology and what are the most commons reasons patients are coming in to be seen by a dermatologist?
A dermatologist is a doctor who treats disorders pertaining to the hair, skin and nails. One of most common reasons why patients see a dermatologist in Denver would have to be for dry skin and eczema due to our dry climate. We extensively educate our patients on keeping their skin hydrated with bland cream-based emollients to help prevent and in some cases treat their eczema. In Denver specifically, dry, brittle hair is also a complication due to our dry climate. To combat this, I tell patients to decrease the frequency of washing their hair (no more than every three days), lay off heat styling (which can dry out hair even more), and use a good hydrating deep conditioner at least weekly.
How do you feel natural hair and skincare products play a role in dermatology?
Depends on what is in them. Some products that are labeled as natural still contain fragrances that can be an allergen to many patients. I would say we typically prefer products with minimal ingredients and no added scents if possible. We typically recommend products free from fragrances, dyes, parabens, lanolin, and formaldehyde (Serein Naturals checks those boxes, yay!).
What do you see people doing (or not doing) in Colorado with their skin that can cause long term harm?
Not using sun protection! We are blessed to have so many days of sunshine here in Colorado though if not using sunscreen this can also be detrimental. Chronic UV exposure increases the risk of developing skin cancers in addition to prematurely aging our skin. I would recommend for all skin types to wear a physical block (containing zinc oxide or titanium dioxide) sunscreen daily (SPF 30 or higher).
Dr. Chauncey recommends wearing at least a facial sunscreen year round given the high amount of sun exposure we get here in Denver.
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Regarding hair loss, since often times they come to you when it's too late, what can people do to prevent it? What are the major causes of hair loss and what early symptoms should we take action on?
Being cognoscenti of harmful hairstyling practices - styles that put tension on the hair, leaving protective styles in for more than 2 months, chemically altering the hair, using heat (flat irons, curling iron, and hair dryers). Major causes of hair loss in the African American community include traction alopecia and central centrifugal cicatricial alopecia (CCCA) which largely result from styling practices in addition to stress related, medication induced, autoimmune and genetic causes of hair loss like telogen effluvium, androgenetic alopecia and alopecia areata. Endocrine abnormalities like hypo or hyperthyroidism, anemia, decreased vitamin D or zinc levels may also contribute to hair loss. Early signs that should prompt evaluation by a dermatologist include scalp pain, tingling, pruritus, redness, rash and overt areas of hair loss.
Dr. Chauncey is available for speaking engagements and can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Instagram at @i.am.chauncey. Have more questions? Please comment your thoughts or questions below!