African American women are faced with a unique set of skincare challenges that are linked to their skin color and genetics. While African American women experience many of the same skincare problems that affect Caucasian, Hispanic and Asian women, these problems often present differently in African American women. Their predisposition to hyperpigmentation leaves them more vulnerable to conditions that cause skin discoloration. Below are the top 9 skincare concerns facing African-American women.
1) Vitiligo. While vitiligo only impacts 1% to 2% of the overall population, it is a condition that disproportionately impacts African Americans.Vitiligo is particularly concerning to African American women because it is a highly noticeable condition that is often resistant to treatment. The hallmark of vitiligo is large white patches on the skin, or patches of gray or white hair on the scalp. Theorists posit that vitiligo develops when cells that produce melanin are damaged. Treatments such as phototherapy are not always effective, particularly on areas of the feet and hands.
2) Melasma. Melasma affects all skin types but African American women in their 20s and 30s face an elevated risk of developing melasma. This skincare problem arises as a result of the improper functioning of cells that produce melanin. Melasma is typically characterized as epidermal (affecting the outer skin layers) or dermal (affecting the deeper layers of the skin) and appears as brownish patches on the face. While epidermal melasma can be treated with topical medications or chemical peels, dermal melasma is particularly distressing for African American women because it is resistant to treatment.
3) Acne. While acne plagues women with every type of skin tone, acne is particularly problematic for African American women because it can contribute to hyperpigmentation. Acne forms when an overabundance of oil in the skin clogs a person’s pore openings. The resulting is bumpy and uneven skin, ranging from small pumps to large dark-colored cysts. Common treatments for acne include antibiotics and prescription topical gels or lotions. The key to minimizing the effects of acne in African American women is seeking treatment promptly before hyperpigmentation becomes a serious problem.
4) Eczema. Commonly referred to as dermatitis, eczema appears as a red rash. It can be inherited (known as atopic dermatitis) or triggered by temperature changes or stress. Like many skin conditions, eczema can affect all women. However, it tends to impact women with darker skin at a higher rate. Eczema can be particularly problematic because it is frequently misdiagnosed. Treatment methods include refraining from the use of irritating skin products and the use of ultraviolet light therapy.
5) Keloids. Keloids appear as large raised scars that can grow in surface area and sensitive to touch. They tend to emerge following an injury such as a cut or a burn, but the exact cause is not fully defined. African American women rightfully worry about keloids, as research indicates that African Americans are 7 times more likely than caucasians to develop keloids. Their unpredictability makes keloids a challenge to manage, as they can develop at any point in time and surface on virtually any area of the body. Keloids can be resistant to treatments, which range from cortisone injections to surgical removal.
6) Pseudofolliculitis Barbae (PFB). Often misdiagnosed as acne, PFB is a condition that causes bumps to develop under the skin’s surface. PFBis triggered by ingrown hairs and disproportionately impacts African Americans and Hispanics because people in these groups have screw-shaped hair follicles that predispose people to the condition. PFB is commonly treated with laser hair removal, but it is important to ensure that the condition is properly diagnosed by a trained medical professional before seeking treatment.
7) Skin cancer. Melanoma and other forms of skin cancer are among the most concerning skin problems that an African American woman can experience because skin cancer can lead to death if not successfully treated. Unfortunately, some African American women fail to engage in skin cancer screenings because they mistakenly assume that their dark skin color will fully protect them from the harmful effects of the sun’s rays. While the incidence of skin cancer is significantly lower among African Americans, the danger is that skin cancer is more likely to bediagnosed in its later stages when treatments may not be as successful. The regular use of a broadband sunscreen combined with regular skin cancer screenings is the best way to prevent skin cancer in African American women.
8) Seborrhec Dermatitis. This condition is routinely called dandruff and is marked by the presence of flaking skin. Commonly affected areas include the scalp, eyebrows, and hairline. Other impacted areas of the skin may include the ears and the nasolabial folds. Flakes are typically either white or yellow in color, which can make the condition even more noticeable and embarrassing for African American women who have dark skin. The condition is often treated with over-the-counter dandruff shampoo or anti-fungal shampoos with ciclopriox or ketoconazole.
9) Hyperkeratosis. While hyperkeratosis is generally painless, African American women seek to prevent the condition because it can lead to the uneven thickening of affected skin areas. Discoloration can also occur with hyperkeratosis, increasing the unpleasant effects of this skin condition. Hyperkeratosis typically affects areas of the skin that are subject to friction or repeated contact with other surfaces such as elbows, knees, and soles of the feet. Treatment choices typically reflect the condition’s severity and affected body areas and include topical creams that contain salicylic acid or tretinoin.
We invite you to contact us to learn more about the skin care challenges that affect African American women. We hope you will contact us soon!