4 Skin Conditions That Commonly Affect Dark Skin Tones
It’s not just your skin type or age that can affect the appearance of your skin; your skin color can also be a factor in what skin conditions you could develop. According to Dr. Porcia Bradford Love, a board-certified, Alabama-based dermatologist, people of color with dark skin commonly experience acne, post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation and melasma. If not diagnosed or treated correctly, these conditions can cause scarring that do not fade easily. Here, she breaks down each condition and her recommendations for addressing each one.
Acne and Post-Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation (PIH)
Acne is one of the most common skin concerns no matter what your skin tone is, but it can affect people of color a bit differently than those with lighter complexions. “Pore size is larger in patients with skin of color and is correlated with increased sebum (or oil) output,” says Dr. Love. “Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH), characterized by dark spots, may be present after lesions heal.”
For treatment, Dr. Love says that the goal is to target acne while minimizing PIH. To do this, she suggests washing the face twice daily with a gentle cleanser. Then, a topical retinoid or retinol have been known to help treat acne and scarring, as well as incidents of post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation “Always use a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 to help prevent new hyperpigmentation and make sure your moisturizer and sunscreen are non-comedogenic (non acne-forming),” she says. For product recommendations, we suggest Black Girl Sunscreen, a formula that doesn’t leave a white cast on dark skin tones and the pore-appearance-minimizing moisturizer La Roche-Posay Effaclar Mat.
In addition to post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, keloids, or raised scars, can also occur as a result of acne on dark skin. “Patients with skin of color may have a genetic predisposition to scarring,” says Dr. Love. Consult your doctor for the best course of treatment.
“Melasma is a common form of hyperpigmentation found in skin of color, particularly in women of Latina, Southeast Asian and African American descent,” says Dr. Love. She explains that it often presents itself as brown patches on the cheeks and can be worsened by sun exposure and oral contraceptives.
To help prevent melasma from worsening (or occurring in the first place), Dr. Love recommends wearing a physical broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 or above daily. Protective clothing and a wide-brim hat can also help. As for treatment options, she says that hydroquinone is the most common. “However, this should be used under the care of a dermatologist,” she notes. “Topical retinoids may also be used.”
Photography and Art Direction: Jonet Williamson