Most of the time, skin conditions are color-blind. For example, acne occurs in people of all skin tones and skin types, which is why it’s the most common skin condition treated by dermatologists. But some skin conditions occur more frequently in medium and dark complexions. At Vibrant Dermatology & Skinbar MD in Dedham, MA, we know that for people of color skin treatment should be tailored to their individual needs.
People of Color and Skin Disease
Most general knowledge about skin health is made broadly about light-colored skin, but darker skin tones often have more nuance that simply isn’t covered by most beauty bloggers. People of color have different challenges to skin health that must be addressed with the right expert advice and treatments. Several skin diseases are common for people of color, and even some that are experienced more frequently in people who have dark complexions. Some of these common skin diseases include:
Melasma is the darkening of skin cells that is commonly seen in women who are pregnant or women who are going through hormonal changes. But did you know women of color experience melasma earlier and more often? Melasma is frequently seen in women of color between the ages of 20 and 40, but even children, men, and older adults can develop the condition.
While melasma will present as darker brown patches of skin, these symmetrical blotches are generally benign and aren’t painful at all. Melasma commonly occurs on the face, usually on the cheeks, upper lip, and forehead. The exact cause of melasma isn’t known, although many skin experts believe hormonal changes and even medications like birth control can contribute to melasma in all women.
Vitiligo is the opposite of melasma and is characterized by the loss of skin color. Vitiligo is a difficult skin depigmenting disorder that happens when melanocytes are lost in the skin, which creates large patches of white skin that can appear anywhere on the body. Although vitiligo can appear on any skin, it is generally more noticeable in people who have medium to dark complexions.
Many people feel that vitiligo is a disfiguring skin condition, as it is very hard to reverse and is more noticeable when your surrounding skin pigment is dark. What’s more concerning is that severe cases of vitiligo also elevate the risk of sunburn and sun damage.
Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation refers to the darkening of the skin in areas that have been inflamed or injured. PIH is most commonly seen as a result of acne, and while PIH can certainly fade with time, severe PIH can also leave lasting scars on the skin. For people with darker skin colors, post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation can be more common since PIH triggers higher melanin production. People of color who have severe or prolonged acne often worry about pigmentation irregularities for this reason.
A keloid is an atypical scar, which means that it is a raised scar or a textural scar. Keloids can happen from any injury, although many form as a result of severe acne; these scars are also most common on the chest and shoulders. Treating keloid scars can be difficult to treat for people of color, especially since many scar treatments run the risk of creating hyperpigmentation.
Psoriasis is an autoimmune condition that causes skin cells to overgrown, which leads to thick, scaly skin or plaque. Psoriasis does not have a cure, but it can be managed with the right treatment. For people of color, psoriasis is often underdiagnosed or can appear to be similar to eczema. A proper diagnosis will be able to help you find the treatment and skin care routine that can help you manage this condition.
What Are People of Color Skin Treatments?
People of color skin treatments are different dermatology and aesthetic techniques that are specially curated to minimize the risk of hyperpigmentation side effects. It’s often the case that skin treatments used for fair-skinned people are not appropriate for darker skin tones, which can include some lightening topical creams and laser treatments.
In general, you will be able to find people of color skin treatment when you visit a dermatologist who is well-versed in treating medium and dark complexions. A consultation with a skin expert will determine the condition of your skin and the best treatment method to help you skin be healthy and beautiful. Your consultation may include gathering general medical information, previous skin conditions, and other information that will help our experts decide which is the right skin treatment for you.
What Are Common Skin Treatments?
The type of skin treatment used for medium and dark complexions will depend on both the exact tone and type of skin, as well as the condition being treated. Certain factors, such as skin sensitivity, history of scarring, or history of pigmentation, will be vital in determining the best treatment to use for your skin condition.
While sunscreen may be the best way to prevent melasma from worsening, there are many treatments people of color can use to manage this treatment. Certain hydroquinone creams, oral medications, and microneedling can reduce the discolored pigment of the skin. Because topical lightening creams may be too harsh for dark skin tones, treatments like microneedling may be the best option for treating melasma.
The goal of vitiligo treatment is to restore lost pigmentation, but this can be a difficult task if the loss of pigment has progressed past a certain point. In general, long-term solutions can include topical medications, light and laser treatments, and even surgical skin grafts for pronounced vitiligo. However, because vitiligo can continue to spread, it’s important you and your skin specialist discuss the likely cause of your condition so you can prevent vitiligo in the future.
Treating post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation is similar to treating melasma since the goal is to lighten darkened patches of skin. However, because PIH often comes on the heels of skin injuries from acne, the treatment of pigmented skin patches must be done carefully to prevent further pigmentation. Both light treatments and microneedling are ideal for post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. Sun protection is also a vital step to prevent pigmentation concerns in the future.
Keloid treatments usually have unique techniques compared to treating atrophic acne scars. In general, the goal of keloid treatment is to reduce the raised texture of the scar. Some treatments can include steroid injections, certain oils, silicone pads, cryotherapy, and surgical removal for severe scarring.
Treating psoriasis is all about controlling the symptoms of the condition, which means addressing the scaly patches of skin and preventing future outbreaks. Your psoriasis treatment will need to be managed by a dermatologist. Some treatments for psoriasis can include light therapy, injections, oral medications, and moisturizers.
What Else Do You Need To Know About Treating People of Color Skin?
Aside from being aware that some skin treatments need to be customized to avoid pigmentation, there are some other factors that need to be considered for medium and dark complexions. Specifically, in terms of skin health, darker complexions have unique strengths and weaknesses that may factor into how skin health is maintained.
Some Natural Sun Protection
Darker complexions have some natural sun protection. Skin with medium and dark complexions have larger melanosomes, which will determine how dark skin will be; the larger the melanosomes, the more melanin will be produced by the skin. The main role of melanin is to absorb and scatter UV light, which means that those who have darker complexions also have more overall protection from UV rays.
The proof of this protection can be seen in how infrequent sunburns are for people of color. While fair-skinned people need constant protection from harmful UV rays, people of color may only wish to use sunscreen during the hottest months of the year or days when they plan to be outside for extended periods of time. However, keep in mind that built-in protection from UV rays does not mean sun damage won’t occur – and it is not full protection against skin cancer in the future.
One of the neater byproducts of higher melanin in the skin is the fact that people who have medium and dark complexions tend to have slower visible aging. Although people of color will start producing collagen at slower rates by the mid-20s just like anyone else, the results of less collagen will typically take several more years (or decades) to appear. By contrast, people with lighter skin tones tend to notice signs of aging like fine lines and wrinkles as early as their 30s.
The built-in protection from UV rays means it’s very difficult for UV rays to create free radicals in the skin cells that cause visible signs of aging. Many skin experts agree that damage from UV rays is responsible for about 90% of all signs of aging, including dark spots, wrinkles, and skin laxity. When people of color fortify their skin with good skincare habits, they can postpone visible aging for several years.
Higher Water Loss
Dark skin has higher rates of sebum production across all skin tones, but the downside of that top-surface oil is the fact that dark skin also has low levels of ceramides. What this means is that medium and dark complexions have higher rates of water loss, which can lead to skin feeling dry, ashy, or even flakey. Higher water loss can occur in both hot and color weather; those who live in humid climates may not experience the same amount of skin dryness.
The core of skin health is to maintain the moisture barrier of the skin, which protects lower levels of skin from pollutants and irritants. People of color can be proactive about skin health by maintaining moisture in the skin. Using lotions that contain ceramides or other fatty molecules can help support the moisture barrier and prevent some skin conditions, such as eczema or chafing.
Who Are Good Candidates for Skin Treatment?
If you have a skin condition that is related to pigmentation or that creates a higher risk of pigmentation, then it’s strongly encouraged that you seek expert advice from dermatologists who specialize in people of color skin treatment. Concerns like melasma, vitiligo, and psoriasis can all be managed with the right combination of treatments. An expert can also help you identify skincare products that will promote overall healthy skin.
Be Proactive About Skin Health With People of Color Skin Treatment
Part of loving the skin you’re in is taking care of your skin and promoting your skin health. But many treatments that correct troubling skin conditions may be designed for only treating fair-skinned people – and that means that you need to find skin treatments for people of color. Please contact Vibrant Dermatology & Skinbar MD in Dedham, MA to find the people of color skin treatment right for you.