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Skin Problems & Treatments Health Center

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Skin Conditions in Dark Skin

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, because 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.

Eczema and Dark Skin

This itchy, irritating rash can occur in skin of any type or color.  And when it does occur, differences in the structure of black skin can cause related problems. This includes pigmentation and a thickening of the skin (a problem known as lichenification) that can also cause changes in skin color. While skin usually returns to normal once the inflammation is under control, getting the right diagnosis and treatment can be difficult. One reason is that the eczema rash itself can be harder to identify in black skin, and is often confused with psoriasis or fungal infections.

Once the correct diagnosis is made, traditional topical eczema medications are helpful. If the source of the rash is an environmental influence, such as a certain type of fabric, eliminating it can usually help control the eczema.

Flesh Moles and Black Skin

These brown or black raised spots -- called flesh moles or dermatosis papulosa nigra (DPNs) -- occur almost exclusively in African-Americans and most often in women. While they resemble moles or sometimes flattened warts, they are, in fact, a variant of a condition known as seborrheic keratosis, a growth located in the outermost layers of skin. They tend to be inherited in families. They are always benign, never lead to skin cancer, and are not harmful. However, some people do have them removed for cosmetic reasons.

Keloids (Scar Tissue) and Dark Skin

Any time black skin becomes injured, this dramatically increases the risk of keloids -- a scar that spreads beyond the boundary of the original injury and develops into a growth on its own. Most commonly occurring on the earlobes, chest, back, and arms, keloids can develop immediately following an injury or take a long time to grow. Sometimes keloids can itch, cause pain and burning, or be tender to the touch.

No one knows for certain why keloids develop, but one popular theory links them to defects in collagen production that occurs when skin is injured. Treatments for keloids include cortisone injections, radiation therapy, pressure dressings, and silicone gel applications. Keloids can also be removed via traditional or laser surgery, though they can recur.

Pseudofolliculitis Barbae (Ingrown Hairs of the Beard) and Black Skin

Picture of Razor BumpsThe shape of the hair shaft in people of African heritage is curved, not straight. This is true of not only hair on the head, but also on the face and anywhere on the body, and there lies the source of several black skin conditions.

WebMD Medical Reference

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