The darkened area of skin can take from months to years to fade, though medical treatments can help to a small degree. Treatments include removing layers of skin via a chemical peel and prescription bleaching treatments. These treatments won't work on pigment deeper in the skin.
Daily use of sunscreen will also help keep a pigmented area from becoming darker.
Those with sensitive skin are at greatest risk for pigmentation problems. In fact, any skin care product ingredient that irritates or dries skin increases the risk.
The most common products include benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid (used to treat acne) and anti-aging compounds such as retinoids and glycolic acid. In some patients, the skin-bleaching compound hydroquinone can also irritate skin.
In those with lighter skin, product-related irritation normally subsides once use is discontinued. But in people of color, the irritations often give way to post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. This can develop within one to two weeks after stopping the product and can linger for several months or longer.
It's important to note that all these ingredients can be successfully used on dark complexions as long as they are used correctly.
Eczema in Dark Skin
Also known as dermatitis, this skin condition is characterized by an itchy, red rash that comes on gradually and lasts a long time. It can be triggered by stress, extreme changes in temperature, dry skin, plant allergies, or irritations caused by skin care or cosmetic ingredients.
Eczema is believed to occur twice as frequently in children with dark skin. One study found its incidence is higher in Mexican-American teens than either whites or blacks. Other research found a greater incidence in Chinese and Vietnamese babies, compared with white babies.
When eczema occurs in those with dark complexions, it presents a two-fold problem:
- It is often misdiagnosed, leading to long periods of no treatment or the wrong treatment.
- When not treated early on, it can increase the risk of pigmentation problems.
Treatment for eczema consists of identifying and avoiding products that irritate skin. Use of moisturizer can help, along with steroid creams. Sometimes, ultraviolet light therapy is effective.
It is essential to seek help as soon as possible for any red, itchy rash. Doing so will help avoid pigmentation problems.