Acne affects millions of Americans each year and affects people of all skin tones, however acne can present special challenges in people with darker skin. In darker skin, a pimple or pimple can cause dark spots, scars, or even keloid scars (scar tissue that continues to grow larger than the original scar) that lasts months to years later. The rest of those affected are looking for the secret to treatment – or better yet, prevention. In this post, we discuss how acne and similar or related conditions can be treated, and sometimes prevented, in people with dark skin.

Acne triggers the release of melanin

Melanin, the same molecule that pigments our skin and hair and protects us from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays, may also protect our skin from inflammation. When our skin becomes inflamed from acne (or from harsh acne products), our skin produces melanin. This can lead to dark spots, known as post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH), which can outlast the acne itself and is more likely to appear in people with darker skin. In more severe cases, texture scars and even keloids can develop as a result of inflammation. Timely prevention and treatment measures can help improve, minimize, or even prevent PIH, scarring, and keloids.

What if it’s not acne?

Before starting treatment, it’s important to realize that there are other conditions that may look like acne but aren’t. People with darker skin may be more prone to ingrown hairs, such as hair that can look like acne and cause the same dark spots. However, these bumps are caused by hair growing out of the hair follicle in a tightly coiled manner and may require treatment such as laser hair removal. In the beard area, this is known as pseudo-folliculitis bacteria and can be mistaken for acne, especially in men with darker skin types. A dermatologist with experience in treating dark skin can make an accurate diagnosis and tailor an appropriate treatment plan.

Treatment of acne

True acne should be treated with gentle products, as harsher treatments can cause severe dryness or irritation that can worsen blemishes and scars. Topical retinoid and retinol-containing creams and gels can help unclog pores, reduce inflammation, and accelerate skin cell renewal and regeneration, helping to prevent and treat PIH and scarring. Start with a milder retinoid product (like 0.1% adapalene gel) and gradually increase the intensity and frequency of use so your body adjusts without over-irritating it. Washing your face with benzoyl peroxide can also help get rid of bacteria on the skin that contribute to the development of acne. Always avoid squeezing, squeezing or picking at pimples, which can cause the acne to spread and slow to heal. It may take several months to see the results you want, so be patient.

Another potential cause of breakouts, especially on the forehead: certain styling products such as pomades, oily hair products, and thick creams are commonly used by people with darker skin and textured hair. than. These can contribute to breakouts including blackheads, whiteheads, and general swelling on the forehead and temples. They can be prevented by applying these products only between the scalp and the ends of the hair, and avoiding contact with the skin of the face.

Finally, if you feel that wearing a mask is contributing to your breakouts, you may be experiencing a form of acne caused by friction and pressure on your skin. Consider washing your face immediately after you remove the mask; Change the mask often and apply a thin layer of moisturizer under the mask to create an anti-friction barrier whenever possible.

Treatment of PIH and scarring

Once the underlying inflammation is under control, your PIH may fade over time. However, you can speed up the process with an over-the-counter or prescription skin lightening cream. Choose a product carefully; Some bleaching creams can contain unhealthy doses of corticosteroids, which can cause a variant of acne, known as steroid acne, if used long-term. When choosing a skin-lightening product, look for ingredients like retinoids or retinols, azelaic acid, glycolic acid, hydroquinone, or kojic acid. Be sure to follow the directions on the package and consult a dermatologist when in doubt to avoid over-bleaching and irritation. Also, protect your skin by applying sunscreen daily.

In-office procedures such as lasers, chemical peels, and microdermabrasion can help treat PIH and scarring immediately. These procedures should be performed by a board-certified dermatologist with expertise in treating darker skin types; If done incorrectly, they can lead to skin damage, scarring, and worsening PIH.

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