DOI: 10.1097/jw9.0000000000000094 ISSN:

Skincare from the inside out: a pilot project addressing social determinants of health through dermatology

Kelly M. Kimball, Rachael A. Cowan, Rachel Krevh, Adrianna Nicholson, Payas Shah, Shreya Gurumurthy, Jacqueline Graham
  • Dermatology


Many women’s shelters across the nation have programs that emphasize and empower women through career workshops and skills training. However, what is not typically addressed is their dermatological and mental health needs, which are equally important.


Through this pilot project, we aim to address the diverse interrelated issues concerning the whole woman and her body/mind systems including skin cancer awareness, skincare, healthy sun habits, self-esteem, mental health, and stress management. By addressing the woman holistically, we hope to positively impact the way she views and values herself.


We partnered with a local women’s shelter to host a seminar focused on dermatological and mental health education. Pre- and post-seminar surveys were collected from participants. Surveys were anonymous and aimed to evaluate the success and efficiency of the workshop to guide and improve future seminars. The seminar had three workshops: skin cancer and sun protection, skincare, and mental health and wellness. Upon completion of the seminar, the attendees were provided with the opportunity to receive free skin examinations by two board-certified dermatologists, and referrals were made to Northeast Ohio Medical University’s Student-Run Free Clinic. Upon completion of the seminar, attendees were provided with items such as sunscreen, skincare, and mental health resources.


The “Skincare from the Inside Out” pilot project proved to be beneficial to residents of both Norma Herr Women’s Shelter.


Limitations of this study were the small sample size (n = 15), due to participation limitations during the COVID-19 pandemic.


Ultimately, to reduce the morbidity and mortality of dermatologic conditions associated with homelessness, it is imperative to address upstream social determinants of health. Future development of this pilot project will aim toward educating medical professionals on the unique and complex dermatologic and mental health needs of women experiencing homelessness.

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