A Survey of Skin Conditions and Concerns in South Asian Americans: A Community-Based Study

May 2011 | Volume 10 | Issue 5 | Original Article | 524 | Copyright © May 2011


Background: South Asians represent a rapidly growing part of the U.S. population, increasing 188 percent from 1990 to 2000 (0.27% to 0.78%). Studies investigating the epidemiology of skin disorders in South Asian Americans are lacking.
Objective: We sought to determine common skin conditions and concerns among this population.
Methods: This was a community-based survey study. The IRB-approved survey tool was distributed to South Asians adults in the New York City area. All data was self-reported.
Results: 190 surveys were completed. 54 percent of responders were female and 46 percent were male. The age of participants ranged from 18-74 years. The respondents were predominantly foreign born (76%), but a large minority (32%) reported living in the U.S. for over 20 years. Nearly half (49%) of the study population reported having visited a dermatologist in the past. The five most common dermatologic diagnoses included: acne (37%), eczema (22%), fungal infection (11%), warts (8%) and moles (8%). The five most common concerns included: dry skin (25%), hair loss (22%), uneven tone (21%), dark spots (18%) and acne (17%).
Conclusions: Our results suggest that the leading skin conditions and concerns in South Asian Americans are similar to those reported in other populations with skin of color.

J Drugs Dermatol. 2011;10(5):524-528.


Census predictions project that persons with skin of color will constitute approximately 50 percent of the United States (US) population by the year 2050.1 As such, particular attention to skin of color has been increasing in recent literature and across clinics around the country.
To date, published epidemiologic studies of skin diseases in ethnic populations residing in the U.S. have focused on African-Americans, East Asians, Hispanics, Native Americans and Arab Americans.2-8 While the interest in these populations continues to grow, there is a paucity of data in the dermatologic literature pertaining to Americans of South Asian decent.
Individuals of South Asian ancestry are a rapidly growing segment of the U.S. population. In 2000, South Asians made up 0.78 percent (approximately 2.2 million) of the U.S. population, an increase of 188 percent from 1990. Of note, Asian Indians, which comprise the largest subgroup of South Asian Americans, were the fastest growing ethnic group in the U.S. from 1990-2000, with a growth rate of 105.9 percent. In 2005, the Census Bureau's American Community Survey estimated that Asian Indians were the largest Asian American group in over 20 states.1
The objective of this study was to assess common dermatologic diseases and skin-related concerns in Asian Americans of South Asian descent.


Recruitment of Study Subjects

Data collection commenced following Institutional Review Board approval (St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital Center, IRB 08-019) of a waiver of HIPPA and informed consent protocols. One hundred and ninety subjects were recruited from religious festivals and Hindu Temples in Edison, NJ, a health fair in Jackson Heights (Queens), NY, and cultural fairs and events associated with India's Independence Day celebration in Manhattan, NY. Inclusion criteria included age greater than or equal to 18 and self-described South Asian descent. Subjects voluntarily participated without renumeration. Each subject completed a