Skincare for African American Skin

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As compared to patients with darker skin tones, fair skin contains less melanin in their skin. Melanin is responsible for providing skin pigmentation and protecting the skin against sunburns and damage.

African American skin varies in its tones and shades, which extend between caramel, almond, hazelnut, toffee, java, espresso, ebony, and deep ebony. There is a thicker dermis (middle layer of the skin), which translates to higher levels of collagen levels in the skin. This helps to protect against skin aging such as fine lines, wrinkles, laxity, and sun damage. The collagen producing cells of the dermis, fibroblasts, are also larger and more numerous. This can result in an increased incidence of thick scars and keloids. The most common place for keloids to occur are the ear lobes, chest, back, and the back of the scalp. Treatment options for keloids include injections, compression therapy, and excision with topical immunomodulators.

Melanocytes, the pigment generating cells of the skin, produce more melanin than any other skin tone. This increased melanin has the benefit of reducing sun damage and protecting the skin from sunburns. However, these melanocytes are also more sensitive, thus making pigmentation and uneven skin tone issues more problematic. Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH) is skin darkening of the skin due to inflammation, injury, or trauma. PIH may occur after acne, insect bite, burn, bruise, abrasion or scratch, rash, surgical incision, or a improperly delivered cosmetic treatments, and is worsened with sun exposure. Melasma is a skin condition where patients develop brown patches on the cheeks, forehead, and/or upper lip, and is worsened by sun exposure, female hormones (pregnancy, birth control pills, and hormone replacement therapies), light, and inflammation. To improve your hyperpigmentation issues, your board certified dermatologists at The Pearl Dermatology will develop a customized approach for you which may include prescription brightening creams, physician based skin care lines which focus on brightening, sunscreens, chemical peels, and/or microneedling with PRP.

Some patients develop small non-cancerous skin growths called DPN’s (dermatosis papulosa nigra) on the cheeks, temples, and nose. These dark brown, elevated skin growths occur in clusters on the skin and are more common in some families. Although not dangerous, many patients prefer to have these lesions removed for cosmetic purposes via electrocautery. Following treatment, our dermatologists recommend a combination of a skin brightening cream and sunscreen to protect against PIH. Some patients are more prone to develop dark under eye circles. This is in part due to genetics, but can be very troubling for patients as they feel they appear tired all the time. These dark circles are due to increased pigmentation coupled with loss of volume (fat) under the eyes, which progressively increases with time. Hyaluronic acid fillers, such as Restylane, can be injected off label under the eyes to improve hollowing while skin brightners can be used to reduce pigmentation.
Finally, skin cancer does occur in African American skin tones including the most dangerous skin cancer, melanoma. Therefore, to protect against skin cancer and pigmentation issues, sunscreen usage throughout the day and safe sun practices are a must.

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