The fact is that any type of skin condition can happen regardless of the pigment of skin you have. When it comes to African American skin care and others with darker complexions however, there are a few skin care problems that are much more prevalent.
Here are five of the most common African American skin care issues…
Acne is a chronic disorder characterized by excess production of oil from sebaceous glands causing the hair follicles generally on the face, chest and back to become plugged. Pimples, papules, pustules and comedone, (black heads and white heads) cysts and infected abscesses can be treated in acne. Acne affects most teenagers to some extent. However, the disease is not restricted to any age group; adults in their 20s – even into their 40s – can get acne. In regards to African American skin care, acne may result in long lasting discolorations of the skin. Therapy is the same for all skin types but it is very important to use topical agents that minimize irritation of the skin.
Ingrown Hairs of the Beard (Razor Bumps)
Another African American skin care issue is Ingrown Hairs. African Americans have curved hair shafts and this is true of beard hair as well as other body hair. Often after a very close shave, the pointed hair may curl back into the skin and it may pierce the wall of the hair follicle, causing a reaction resulting in bumps called “pseudofolliculitis barbae.” If you can, growing a beard is a viable option for helping this.
African American men should try different methods of hair removal if they suffer with ingrown hairs, which are also called razor bumps. Shaving with a special type of safety razor that does not permit a very close shave may help. Do not stretch the skin during shaving and don’t shave on a daily basis. If hairs become ingrown, lift them up with an alcohol-cleaned needle (don’t tweeze or pluck) just before shaving. Sometimes using a rough washcloth before shaving can help to loosen hairs about to grow inward.
Hair removal chemicals do remove hair but should only be used once a week. They must be wiped off promptly according to package directions and wash your face twice with soap and water immediately afterwards to guard against irritation.
Permanent removal of hair performed by an experienced Electrolysis Operator may be an effective solution and there are new medicated creams that may slow hair growth and help. Be sure to consult your dermatologist about treatment options.
Variations in Skin Color
African American skin has larger melanosomes (cells that determine skin color ) and the melanosomes contain more of the pigment melanin than those found in white skin. Because of the protective effect of melanin, African-Americans are better protected against skin cancer and premature wrinkling from sun exposure.
Post inflammatory hyper pigmentation is quite common in dark skinned individuals, even after minor trauma. An area of the skin may darken after an injury such as a cut or a scrape, or after certain skin disorders such as acne. To avoid or reduce post inflammatory hyper pigmentation, avoid picking, harsh scrubbing, and abrasive treatments. Darkened areas of skin may take many months or years to fade, although topical (surface) bleaching agents may help. Also chemical peels (using alpha and beta hydroxyl acids) and microdermabrasion can be helpful.”
Vitiligo is a common African American skin care condition where pigment cells are destroyed and irregular white patches on the skin appear. Many dermatologists think that the cause of this common disorder is an autoimmune process, where the cells of the body attack the pigment producing cells.
The extent of color loss differs with each person; some people lose pigment over their entire bodies. Some patients with vitiligo do not regain skin color, however some cases of vitiligo do repigment. See your dermatologist as soon as possible, as the extent of the disease will determine the appropriate treatment. .
Several skin care methods are used to treat vitiligo, but none have been perfected. Topical medications, including corticosteroids and new non-steroid anti-inflammatory preparations are commonly used. In cases where vitiligo affects most of the body, it is sometimes best to destroy the remaining normal pigment. A dermatologist can determine what treatment is best based on the extent of the disease.
When the scar from a cut or wound extends and spreads beyond the size of the original wound, it is known as a keloid. Keloids may vary in size, shape, and location. They occur more often in brown or black skin making this a very common African American skin care issue.
Keloids are a common skin care issue on the ear lobes, neck, chest, or back, and usually occur after an injury or surgery. Occasionally they occur spontaneously, especially on the mid-chest area. Keloids often follow inflammation caused by acne on the face, chest, and back.
Keloids may be painful both physically and emotionally (from a cosmetic perspective), but it’s important to address keloids primarily as a medical, rather than cosmetic condition.
Depending on the location of the keloid, skin care treatment may consist of cortisone injections, pressure, silicone gels, surgery, laser treatment, or radiation therapy. Unfortunately, keloids tend to return and even enlarge, especially after treatment with surgery.
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