Skin Conditions in Dark Skin
While most skin problems occur in all ethnic groups, there are some skin conditions that occur more often in dark or black skin -- or when they do occur, are more difficult to treat. In other instances they may simply be more visible, causing them to seem more severe.
Fortunately, in nearly all instances, an early diagnosis -- and early treatment -- level the playing field, increasing the recovery odds and reducing severity.
Here are the most important dark skin conditions and their solutions.
Postinflammatory Hyperpigmentation in Dark Skin
The major symptom of postinflammatory hyperpigmentation is a darkening of the skin that occurs after it has been injured. A cut, scrape, burn, or even lesions that occur from acne or eczema can set the stage for hyperpigmentation to occur.
While the dark spots can fade over time, this is not a hard and fast rule. What can help, however, is seeking treatment early. Procedures that can help to some degree include chemical peels and skin bleaching -- all designed to lighten the darkened areas.
Dark spots can be prevented from deepening in color via diligent use of sunscreen.
Vitiligo (Loss of Skin Pigment) in Dark Skin
Skin gets its color from pigment cells known as "melanocytes." When those cells are damaged or destroyed, they can no longer produce pigment, causing white or "colorless" spots to appear. The spots can grow larger over time and eventually blend together so that large portions of the skin have no color.
While no one knows why this occurs, many experts suspect it is related to problems within the immune system. There is also some evidence of links to heredity.
People of any skin color can develop vitiligo, but it's most obvious on dark skin. It commonly occurs on the hands, face, upper chest, around body openings (like eyes and nose), in body folds (like armpits and groin), or at the site of an injury.
When vitiligo impacts the hair, premature gray color is the result.
One common treatment is controlled exposure to UV light, called phototherapy. This can help increase the amount of melanocyte cells at the skin's surface.
Other treatments include prescription-strength corticosteroid cream, light/laser treatments, and, in rare instances, skin grafting.
Pityriasis Alba in Dark Skin
Commonly affecting black children, this skin disorder causes round, light patches with a fine, scaly texture. It can occur anywhere, though the most common sites are the face and arms. It is considered a mild form of eczema, and usually responds well to topical therapy, such as corticosteroid cream. Unlike vitiligo, the color change is temporary and disappears after treatment.
Dark Skin That's Dry and Ashy
Any skin type or color can become dry and flaky. But when it occurs in black skin, the complexion takes on a gray, ashy appearance. This can be particularly frustrating for black women since makeup used to conceal the problem may further dry the skin and increase ashiness.
The solution is relatively simple: Frequent use of moisturizers. An over-the-counter product may be all that's needed.