Controlling Acne in Ethnic Skin
What's special about acne in ethnic skin? Frankly, I'm not that keen on the implied division of the human race into two groups of white and "ethnic" for all other races, but that's another topic for another time.
Sure, acne affects everyone - it's no respecter of ethnic groups. So, going back to the question at the beginning of this page, what's special about ethnic skin and acne?
Well, acne affects people with ethnic skin (or darker skin) a little differently from lighter-skinned groups.
The biggest problem for people with darker complexions who have acne is the skin darkening (hyperpigmentation or discoloration) that comes with the disorder. This can last for months or even years, sometimes longer than the spots and pimples themselves. And the hyperpigmentation can cause more anxiety than the spots and pimples.
The skin darkening may develop in relation to acne in ethnic skin, or as a result of treating the acne too aggressively, with or without chemicals. Picking your spots and pimples, for example, can lead to hyperpigmentation or make it worse.
Controlling acne in ethnic skin needs to be started early to prevent hyperpigmentation, since this is a major problem for people with darker skin. How you control your acne is also important.
If you have dry skin, you will already know that it is more sensitive and more easily irritated. So you'll need to avoid using skin care products that can irritate your skin. Alcohol-based toners or astringents, harsh soaps and make up removers containing witch hazel can all cause irritation.
Also, medicinal treatments like benzoyl peroxide and retinoids can irritate the skin and make it darker. Oral contraceptives, which are sometimes used to control acne, can also cause hyperpigmentation.
So if you are already noticing some skin darkening, or you are worried about it occurring, then you'll want to avoid using these treatments.
Try to stay away from any products that can irritate the skin, such as alcohol-based toners and alcohol-based acne treatments. For alternatives to these products, please see the other pages in the acne section.
Unfortunately, there are currently no non-drug treatments for the skin darkening that is linked with acne in ethnic skin.
So if you're not keen on medical treatments (hydroquinone, chemical peels, and all that), you really need to start controlling your acne at the earliest possible stage. And since acne never really goes away completely, you'll need to make sure you always keep it under control.
Another feature of acne that is more common in darker-skinned people is the formation of keloids. This overgrowth of scar tissue (keloids) is often more disfiguring than skin darkening, although it is not as common.
There's also pomade acne, which is a type of acne that affects people with darker skin. You see this mainly in Africans and African Americans and sometimes in Latin Americans.
Pomade acne usually affects the temples and hairline. Not surprisingly, it's caused by using pomades, hair grease and other oils on the scalp and facial hair. So choose your hair styling products carefully.
The bottom line is this: take control of your acne sooner rather than later, to reduce the risk of hyperpigmentation or scarring.
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