Skin Conditions in Dark Skin
Eczema and Dark Skin
This itchy, irritating rash can occur in skin of any type or color. However, according to the National Eczema Society, it occurs twice as frequently in black skin. 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 certain types of clothing, 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 -- 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. 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
The 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.
One such common issue is ingrown hairs, a particular problem for men who shave too close. Doing so can lead to the pointed, sharp ends of the beard growing back into the skin, resulting in acne-like bumps, which in turn can become infected and/or lead to hyperpigmentation.
For some men, chemical hair removers can help, but they should never be used on a daily basis. Electrolysis, which permanently removes the hair at the root, can be helpful as well. The latest and most effective solution involves laser hair removal, combined with or without creams that slow hair growth.