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5 Common Skin Disorders That Affect Black Skin

Although skin is a biological organ that is essentially designed to act as protective barrier, and we all have that in common, we’d be remiss not to acknowledge that black and Asian skin types are susceptible to certain skin disorders, which is yet another reason why those in the aesthetics industry need to ensure that they gain awareness of such differences and tailor the most effective treatments to suit a particular skin type. In this article I'll outline some common skin disorders that affect darker skin tones and suggest treatments to combat them.

1. Hyperpigmentation

Hyperpigmentation is characterised as a skin condition which occurs when dark patches appear on the skin that are noticeably darker in colour than the rest of the surrounding skin. It’s caused by overproduction of melanin, and although it affects all types of skin tones, black and Asian skin tends to be more susceptible to it. “Hyperpigmentation occurs in all skin types”, explains Dr Lauren, cosmetic doctor and founder of wellness clinic, Victor & Garth, “Unfortunately, darker skin tones are more prone to hyperpigmentation and it can be quite severe when it does occur. This is because these individuals have a tendency to increase melanin production in response to inflammation.”

Treatment available for hyperpigmentation

There are a few removal treatments available that will help reduce the appearance of hyperpigmentation or get rid of it altogether. Dr Lauren recommends patients explore the following options: “Depending on the severity of your hyperpigmentation there are various topical treatments you can benefit from. Tyrosinase inhibitors such as azaleic acid, kojic acid, arbutin and vitamin C are depigmenting agents which work by stopping the action of tyrosine which is key in melanin synthesis. Another example of a tyrosine inhibitor is hydroquinone. This can be very effective but because of the side effects it should only be prescribed and monitored by a medical professional. Retinoids will also encourage more of an even brighter skin tone. Dark skinned individuals should also use sunscreen as this will protect their skin and stop the areas of hyperpigmentation darkening. Chemical peels and laser treatment are often needed when topical measures are exhausted or for more optimal results.”

2. Dark under-eye circles

Another common skin disorder among people with dark skin tones are dark under-eye circles. There are a few contributing factors as to why dark circles occur, which include hereditary factors, poor diet and sleeping habits, hyperpigmentation, allergies and anaemia. Although it’s not a serious problem, those who suffer from dark circles want to eradicate their circles or at least make them appear less conspicuous.

Treatment available for under-eye circles

Most of us will be familiar with the cucumber over the eye beauty ritual growing up which was applied to soothe tired and puffy eyes. It’s one of those ancient natural healing remedies passed down through families and still remains an effective way to lessen the appearance of dark circles due to its lightening, cooling and astringent qualities. For a more robust treatment plan, there are a few options available including prescribed lightening creams, chemical peels, and in some instances, laser treatment. It’s always worth trying to eliminate all the poor lifestyle habits that may be contributing to your dark circles first. If there is still no improvement, speak to your dermatologist about implementing the most effective treatment for you.

3. Rosacea

Rosacea is a skin condition that mainly affects the face, and shows up as redness, soreness, or sometimes small pimples that covers areas such as the cheeks, nose and forehead. Although rosacea is often seen as a condition that affects fairer skin types, those with darker skin tones are prone to it too. Dr Lauren explains how it can be misunderstood due to how it shows up on deeper skin tones. “When treating darker skin, “one issue is that some skin conditions can be misunderstood” mentions Dr Lauren. “Rosacea commonly affects fairer skin, but it can be seen across all skin types, in areas such as the forehead and chin that you wouldn’t usually see in a textbook images of the condition, which tend to depict a caucasian female with redness across the cheeks and nose.” Due to the fact that redness doesn’t show up on dark skin, rosacea can be hard to diagnose. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms visit your dermatologist to get a diagnosis.

Treatments available for rosacea

Rosacea is a skin disorder that can be treated and minimised but there is a chance it will re-occur. Recommended treatments include laser and light treatments, creams and gels and oral medications. To stay in remission, try to avoid triggers that will lead to a flare up such as alcohol, smoking, spicy foods, caffeine and dairy.

4. Acne scars

None of us are immune from the scarring effect of acne, but dark skin in particular can really be impacted by it. Acne scars occur when the skin tissue becomes inflamed and in an attempt to heal itself, it becomes damaged and leaves marks and lesions on the skin. Dark skin tones also commonly suffer from hypertrophic and keloid scars – which means the skin tissue becomes raised due to over-healing and the overproduction of collagen. These type of scars often come about as a result of cuts and wounds.

Treatments available for acne scars

For acne scar sufferers a visit to your dermatologist or cosmetic doctor is paramount to get a full diagnosis and a bespoke treatment plan on how to combat the issue. Treatments are varied and range from steroid injections to chemical peels, microneedling, laser treatments and dermal fillers.

5. Melasma

Melasma, also known as chloasma is a chronic skin condition that generally effects pregnant women. It manifests as skin discoloration across the forehead, cheeks and upper lip and is thought to develop due to pregnancy hormonal fluctuations. The condition tends to fade after delivery, but many women find it bothersome and seek to find treatment.

Treatments available for melasma

It goes without saying that applying any kind of topical or clinical treatment during pregnancy should definitely be approached with caution, so a diagnosis from a dermatologist is essential. Current treatments available to diminish the appearance of melasma include topical creams like hydroquinone, retinoid, or vitamin C. For a more clinical solution, chemical peels are often used to treat melasma, but do ensure that your practitioner has experience in treating darker skin tones so the correct therapy can be prescribed.

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