Skin of Color and Flare-Ups
Skin comes in all colors—from the lightest ivory to the deepest brown and nearly every shade in between. With that, skin conditions can occur in every skin color on the spectrum.
There are certain skin conditions that seem to affect dark skin complexions more frequently or with more severity. Also, many treatments used for common skin conditions can sometimes result in even more issues when used on people of color.
Flare-ups can happen to literally anyone, but for those with melanin-rich skin, sometimes it can be especially tough to try and soothe skin. But don’t panic, we’re here to help. Read on to learn everything you need to know about skin of color and flare-ups.
A Quick Biology Refresher
The color of all skin stems from cells called melanocytes. They produce melanosomes -- packets containing the natural chemical melanin. Studies show that all people have around the same number of melanocytes in skin tissue, regardless of color. What differs is both the distribution and the size of the melanosomes, so the more there are and larger they are, determines how dark the skin will be. Isn’t that cool?!
Since the primary role of melanin is to absorb and scatter energy from ultraviolet (UV) light, having a dark complexion reduces the risk of sun damage, particularly as it pertains to skin cancer formation and aging. This doesn’t mean you can skip sunscreen though, boo!
Also, dark skin is more likely to develop issues with pigmentation. Even minor injuries such as bug bites can cause a change in skin pigment, allowing dark spots (A.K.A. hyperpigmentation) to take place.
When not properly administered, any cosmetic treatment that injures the skin -- such as dermabrasion, laser surgery, Botox injections, or wrinkle-filling injections like Restylane -- has the potential to lead to pigmentation issues.
Pigmentation Changes in Dark Skin
In hyperpigmentation, your skin either produces too much pigment, or the pigment is deposited deep within your skin, resulting in—you guessed it—dark spots. When color is lost, it’s called hypopigmentation, which results in light-colored patches on the skin. All people with darker skin tones are at risk for both conditions.
Among the most common types of pigment issues in those with dark skin is post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. This happens as a result of a skin injury, such as a burn, scrape, or cut. It can also occur in conjunction with acne or eczema.
The darkened area of skin can take months to even years to fade completely, though quality skincare products like Topicals’ FADED can help. This powerful gel serum gently fades the look of your most stubborn spots, scars, and marks so that you can kick back and let your worries fade away. Made with science-backed ingredients and herbals to gently smooth rough and textured skin while balancing skin tone, FADED is an incredible brightening and clearing gel that can do wonders for discolored skin. We’ve got your back.
Eczema in Dark Skin
Eczema is a sort of umbrella term that includes a handful of itchy skin rashes, but it most commonly refers to the condition known as atopic dermatitis. It can be triggered by things like stress, dry skin, extreme changes in temperature, plant or pet allergies, or irritations caused by cosmetic or skincare ingredients.
When eczema occurs in those with melanin-rich skin, the concern has multiple points:
When not treated early on, eczema can increase the risk of pigmentation problems.
It’s often misdiagnosed, leading to long periods of no treatment or the wrong treatment.
In general, an eczema flare-up consists of very itchy, dry patches on the skin. On lighter skin tones, they often appear red, but on darker skin, they can appear brown or purplish.
Treatment for this common chronic skin condition consists of identifying and avoiding certain products that irritate your skin. The use of a top-notch moisturizer can help quite a bit, along with steroid creams. Sometimes, ultraviolet light therapy is effective.
We recommend our LIKE BUTTER Hydrating Mask because it’s packed with powerful botanicals to restore your dry, flaky skin while fortifying your skins’ damaged moisture barrier -- which is perfect for those with eczema!
Acne in Dark Skin
Acne can occur in any skin type, but due to its link to hyperpigmentation, it’s a major concern for those with dark complexions. Acne develops when there’s an overproduction of oil in the skin. That oil mixes with bacteria and debris within the pores and blocks the pore openings. This causes inflammation just under the skin, which results in lesions—anything from tiny, discreet bumps to large cysts.
An acne flare-up can lead to pigmentation differences in those with dark skin, which can take months to fade, so it’s important to take super good care of your skin. Use the FADED serum we mentioned earlier to fade the look of scars, marks, and spots.
Pseudofolliculitis Barbae in Dark Skin
This common skin condition is characterized by painful bumps under the surface of the skin and is often confused with acne—but the issue actually stems from ingrown hairs. It most often occurs in people of color due to the distinct shape of the hair follicle. If the bumps are manipulated or squeezed in any way, they can become inflamed or infected. Ouch! But even when left alone completely, they can be tough to hide and still cause pain.
Since this condition is often confused with acne, it’s really important to have your diagnosis confirmed by a dermatologist familiar with dark skin. At this time, there’s really no cure for pseudofolliculitis barbae, but recent studies have shown that laser hair removal is an effective treatment.
Melasma in Dark Skin
People of color -- particularly women -- are at an increased risk for developing melasma, which results in dark patches, usually on the face. It’s often related to pregnancy and hormone exposure.
Sometimes called the “mask of pregnancy,” melasma may be caused by hormonal change, but exposure to UV and visible light from the sun is also a cause. The light stimulates pigment-producing cells.
A flare-up may resolve in a few weeks, or it may be persistent and take years to go away, which is why it’s especially important to consult a dermatologist who can help determine the cause for proper treatment.
Keloids in Dark Skin
Keloid scars are known for their dense, raised appearance. They can vary quite a bit in size and always grow beyond the size of the original wound. They tend to occur more commonly in skin of color -- particularly in those of African-American descent.
Though no one is totally certain as to why keloids develop, they’re thought to be linked to a defect in collagen production. Treatments include radiation therapy, cortisone injections, pressure dressings, and silicone gel applications. Keloids can also be removed with a laser or via surgery, but regardless of the treatment, keloids return between 45 percent and 100 percent of the time. It’s life, but it’s all good.
Vitiligo in Dark Skin
This skin depigmenting disorder occurs due to the loss of melanocytes. The main symptom is large patches of milky-white skin that can appear anywhere on the body. While this skin condition can affect both men and women and those of any race, it’s most noticeable for those with darker skin tones. Celebrities like model Winnie Harlow and Tamar Braxton have shared that they have it. So, if you have vitiligo, you’re not alone!
While research is ever-changing, treatment for vitiligo will be customized to address your unique situation. Most treatment options are geared toward restoring lost pigmentation and creating even skin tones.
Let’s just be real here—skin flare-ups don’t always feel amazing, but Topicals is here to try and make them fun.
We’re a skincare company that is much more than beauty—we’re here to combine the kick-butt power of plant botanicals with proven scientific ingredients to give your complexion the nourishment it needs to help you feel your best. Whether you’re looking to bring balance back to an uneven skin tone or combat pimples from erupting on your chin, we got you!