Eczema and Black Skin

Medically Reviewed by Jabeen Begum, MD on November 15, 2021

photo of eczema on armEczema can affect all types of skin. However, it is more difficult to detect it on darker skin, and often its severity on people of color is greatly underestimated. Usually, it is seen more easily on lighter skin because the inflamed parts of eczema are seen in red or dark red patches. In addition, the dry and itchy eczema skin might ooze or flake off.

What Eczema Looks Like on Black Skin

On black skin, the primary symptom of eczema is hyper-pigmentation. Hyper-pigmentation is when patches of your skin become darker than what your skin is typical. Typically, the most challenging part of eczema for people with black skin is the part where their eczema is no longer inflamed.

Sometimes it can take up to months for the post inflammation symptoms to go away completely. Additionally, black people with eczema commonly experience something called follicular prominence. Follicular prominence shows up as small itchy bumps on the trunk and forearms. The skin will become dry and scaly. In its most noticeable form, it will become grey or white.

Pigmentary Changes

As pigmentary changes can be the most noticeable sign of eczema in people with black skin. Typically, they do not last. However, the best way to minimize the long-term effects of pigmentary changes is to treat your eczema as soon as it is recognized.

However, do not fear. Even if your hyper-pigmentation lasts for longer than expected, eczema-related hyper-pigmentation will always go away eventually. If you find that your hyperpigmentation is not going away, then perhaps the underlying cause of your eczema has not been treated. It is essential that you do not continue to use your topical steroids long-term as this could prolong other symptoms.

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Photo Credit: SPL / Science Source

National Eczema Society: “Skin pigmentation and eczema.”

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