People of African, Asian, Latin and Native American backgrounds know that their skin, hair and nails are subject to conditions that do not affect lighter skinned people. “While most of these are not serious, they may be disturbing, troubling or unsightly,” says Joshua Fox, MD, a leading dermatologist, founder of Advanced Dermatology and an official spokesperson for the American Academy of Dermatology and the American Society of Dermatologic Surgery.
“Fortunately, your dermatologist is well acquainted with these conditions and can help people with dark skin to diagnose and treat their concerns early and quickly,” says Dr. Fox. He offers the following listing of the top skin conditions faced by people of color and how it differs from lighter-skinned individuals.
1. Acne – Many dark skinned women suffer from acne vulgaris, sometimes combined with hyper pigmentation, or skin darkening in spots or patches, which occurs in response to the outbreak of acne. Unlike fairer-skinned individuals, the discoloration plays an integral role in treatment. Surprisingly, these patients are more bothered by the discoloration than the acne itself. Treatments may include topical skin lightening creams for dark spots, sunscreen and topical, prescription acne medications.
2. Dermatosis Papulosa Nigra – These brown or black raised spots, which commonly affect African American women and people of Asian descent, may look like moles or flattened warts. They are always benign, never lead to skin cancer and are not harmful. However, some people do have them removed for cosmetic reasons. Typically, up to 50 percent of Dermatosis Papulosa Nigra patients have a family history of the condition, and up to 35 percent of adult blacks in the United States have it. They are easily removed with minimal to no marks.
3. Eczema – Very common among those with brown skin, eczema is an itchy, irritating rash that can occur in skin of any type or color. However, according to the National Eczema Society, it is found twice as often in black skin. When it does occur, differences in the structure of black from Caucasian skin can cause related problems including excessive pigmentation and a thickening of the skin that can also cause changes in skin color. “Because eczema is harder to identify in dark skin, and is often confused with psoriasis or fungal infections, getting the right diagnosis and treatment can be difficult,” Dr. Fox says. “Once the correct diagnosis has been made, topical medicines are quite helpful.”
4. Keloids – Scar tissue caused by abnormal healing of the skin occurs frequently in individuals with brown skin. Any time dark skin is injured, the risk of keloids is dramatically increased. According to Skin & Aging magazine, up to 16% of black and Asian people suffer from keloids. Keloids can develop immediately following an injury or take a long time to grow. Sometimes they itch, are painful and burning or feel tender to the touch. Treatments include cortisone and other injections, radiation therapy, pressure dressings, silicone gel applications and several types of lasers are extremely helpful. Keloids can also be removed via traditional or laser surgery.
5. Traction Alopecia – This hair loss condition is caused by damage to the hair follicle from constant pulling or tension over a long period of time. It is most common in African Americans who braid their hair tightly, but can also be caused by over processing of the hair through dyes, bleaches or straighteners. According to the National Institutes of Health, some 17% of African-American schoolgirls (6-21 years) and more than 30% of women (18-86 years) suffer from traction alopecia. While this condition can be reversed if diagnosed early, it can lead to permanent hair loss if it is undetected for a long period. These people – mainly women – should change to looser, gentler hair styles and should see a dermatologist. Unfortunately, no medical treatment is available to reverse late-stage traction alopecia; hair grafts, transplants or wigs have been identified as the only practical solution.
6. Melanoma — Those with brown skin often have a false sense of security when it comes to skin cancer. “While increased skin pigmentation offers some protection against the sun’s harmful UV rays,” Dr. Fox says, “melanoma can and does occur,” unlike in the lighter-skinned individual, it occurs especially on the palms, soles, fingers and toes, nails and mucous membranes (such as the mouth or nose). “A new dark mark or a mark that changes in size, shape or color in these areas should be seen by a dermatologist immediately. Even people with dark skin should always use a sunscreen when spending extensive time in the sun,” he says.
7. Pigmentation – Women with brown skin, particularly those of African and Latino descent, have a high incidence of hypertension, diabetes and heart disease and thus take medications for those medical problems. These, as well as other commonly used medications (LIST MEDICATIONS THAT CAN CAUSE PROBLEMS) can cause various types of allergic reactions that frequently lead to hyperpigmentation, or dark patches. While the dark spots can fade over time, women should seek treatment early. Procedures such as chemical peels and skin bleaching, designed to lighten the darkened areas, can help, as can diligent use of sunscreen. The new Fraxel™ is the first laser approved for treatment of melasma – a type of pigmentation disorder of the face.
8. Vitiligo – Skin gets its color from pigment cells. When those cells are damaged or destroyed, they no longer produce pigment, causing white or colorless spots to appear. The spots can grow larger over time and eventually blend together so that large portions of the skin have no color at all. While no one knows why this occurs, many suspect it is related to problems within the autoimmune system. Vitiligo also may be hereditary. While people of any skin color can develop Vitiligo, it is most obvious and therefore debilitating on dark skin. One common treatment is PUVA — a repigmentation therapy involving the drug psoralen combined with exposure to UV light. A simpler, newer and equally efficacious treatment is narrowband UVB light treatment. The newest laser treatment though is that of the Excimer laser 308nm which markedly shortens the number to treatments and spares unwanted streaks. This process help increase the amount of pigment cells at the skin’s surface. Other treatments include prescription-strength corticosteroid cream, light/laser treatments and, in rare instances, skin grafting.
What do brown spots, liver spots, sun spots, age spots, pigmented spots, sun burns, melasma, chloasma, hiperpigmentation and skin cancer have in common? The sun damage.
Watch the Sun Damaged Skin Slideshow of alarming pictures of skin damage and take action to prevent skin problems and reduce your skin care costs.
Here is a very good video resource about how skin works.
Doctor Colbert presents this video series and talks about basic skin functions and the skin care for your 40s, 50s and 60s. This video is a good patient education tool.
Get this from the pros: “These days, it’s perfectly reasonable to expect your skin to get better as you age — no matter what the date on your driver’s license,” says Dr. Ranella Hirsch, president of the American Society of Cosmetic Dermatology and Aesthetic Surgery and a cosmetic dermatologist in Cambridge, Mass.
There are many “secrets” to good looking skin for you 40s, 50s, 60s and beyond. Dr. Hirsch published a very good decade-by-decade skin care guide on MSNBC today. Strongly recommended read. It is an excellent blend of skin care recommendations and professional laser treatments.
All basic recommendations are very good and applicable to many. However, the true secret to your healthy and young looks is knowing what will actually work on your skin. It’s hard to figure it out without a little help from an aesthetic professional, and an educated consumer can get a lot more from a visit to an aesthetic laser clinic.
Regular skin care may be beneficial in the long run. You can spend thousands on latest cosmeceuticals and medical grade creams and lotions. Provided you can afford the expense and the time needed to follow the regimen you may have great skin well into your 50s. Bear in mind though, sun exposure may ruin months of hard work and patience in a few minutes.
Sun avoidance and sun protection are by far the most important factors determining health and looks of your skin. Everything else is secondary.
Light-based and radio frequency based technologies offer a totally different level to skin care. There are many safe and non-invasive lasers, intense pulse light and LED machines, which will make a big difference in providing a real skin texture improvement, new collagen formation, skin tightening and plumping.
Skin care after any laser treatment is very important for healing and for the best overall results of any skin photorejuvenation procedure. Darker skin type patients require extra attention to prevent laser surgery hyperpigmentation.
The melanocytes (skin cells producing melanin – the pigment in the skin) of dark-skinned individuals tend to be more hyperactive to any stimulus, particularly inflammation after laser surgery. Therefore, the use of hypopigmenting agents both pre and postoperatively is of considerable importance. Many combinations of tretinoin, hydroquinone, topical steroid, α-hydroxy acids, kojic acid and/or azealic acid have been advocated by aesthetic physicians.
For the treatment of the hyperpigmentation that follows several laser procedures, many practices favor 0.025% tretinoin cream mixed with 4% hydroquinone to be used initially at night. To assess the degree of irritation, the patient is instructed to apply the cream to back of their ears, and if tolerated, the application is continued on other exposed areas. If any irritation develops, corticosteroid in topical form is added to the combination (1% hydrocortisone).
Patients are typically advised to use 5% glycolic cream in the morning, and if the pigmentation still persists, mild glycolic acid peel (20-30% solution) is performed 9 weeks after the laser procedures. Combinations of Vitamins C and E and glycolic acid as well as many other medical grade skin care products are commercially available and may be very useful for the prevention and treatment of hyperpigmentation after laser skin resurfacing and all non-invasive laser treatments.
The aging process begins when we enter the world and the effects of aging are evident in our bodies through out our lives. Beginning in our 20′s, the signs of aging start to become noticeable. Genetically programmed chronological aging causes changes in collagen and elastin, the connective tissues that supply firmness and elasticity to the skin. The genetic program of individuals is different, so the loss of skin firmness and elasticity occurs at different rates and different times in one individual as compared to another. As skin becomes less elastic, it also becomes drier and underlying fat padding begins to disappear. With the loss of underlying support by fat padding and connective tissues, the skin begins to sag; it appears less supple and wrinkles form.
Although wrinkles, lines and age spots are formed by the natural effects of getting older, one way to prevent them from appearing early on in life is to avoid direct sunlight and use sunscreens with SPFs 15 or higher. And, although most of us have some form of sun-damaged skin, there are ways to regain healthy, smooth skin. After many years of research, scientists, dermatologists and plastic surgeons have discovered that a variety of natural ingredients and vitamin extracts significantly help slow down and even reverse the signs of aging skin. These ingredients are now found in many physician developed and physician recommended anti-aging skin care products, which are specified below.
Vitamin A (Retinol) – Topical Vitamin A has been suggested to help build collagen fibers within the skin in addition to its more superficial exfoliating property. This is the basis for its use in minimizing the appearance of fine wrinkle lines. Vitamin A or Retinol is the main ingredient found in TYK Young Again, M.D. Forte, DDF and SkinScience products.
Vitamin C – Vitamin C or ascorbic acid acts as an antioxidant and is considered vital in wound healing because it aids in stabilizing collagen. When applied topically, vitamin C can reduce fine lines and wrinkles and may lessen the severity of sunburns. This healing ingredient is found in SkinCeuticals, Cellex C and Obagi Cffectives skin care products.
Vitamin E – Vitamin E is another antioxidant that shows to have anti-inflammatory effects on the skin. When applied topically, vitamin E has been shown to improve moisturization, softness and smoothness and also provides modest photo protection. Vitamin E is found in Cellex C, Exuviance and MD Forte products.
Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs) – AHAs are designed to smooth fine lines and surface wrinkles, to improve skin texture and tone, to unblock and cleanse pores, to improve oily skin or acne, and to improve skin condition in general. AHAs are the main ingredients found in MD Forte, TYK Young Again, Super Skin and SkinScience products.
Glycolic Acid – Glycolic acid is the most active and beneficial of the Alpha-Hydroxy-Acids (AHAs) in skin care. Once inside the cells, the acid triggers new formations of collagen to plump cells and the ground substances in the skin to reduce wrinkles on the skin’s surface. Glycolic acid is proven to be very effective in the treatment of acne as well as in cosmetic uses. Glycolic acid is found in products by Gly Derm, MD Forte, Z. Bigatti and Super Skin.
N-6 furfuryladenine (kinetin) – The nature-identical plant growth factor, furfuryladenine, retards the aging of plant cells as well as in vitro human skin fibroblasts. This natural, anti-aging ingredient has been proven to reduce wrinkles and fine lines and is exclusively found in Kinerase creams and lotions. This is a proven alternative for people with sensitive skin or people who are sensitive to products containing Retinol and Vitamin C.
Copper Peptides are the latest scientific breakthrough in skin rejuvenation. Copper has been found to naturally firm the skin, enhance elasticity, and reduce fine lines and wrinkles. Copper is the main ingredient in products by Neova and Osmotics.
Pal-KTTKS – Pal-KTTKS is an effective ingredient for reducing fine lines and wrinkles. It’s found to promote a smoother, younger complexion quickly, without with out expensive and painful chemical peels, surgery or injections. This patented peptide solution is found in StriVectin-SD.
Green Tea Extract – Green tea’s anti-inflammatory and anti-growth qualities are found in many skin care products designed to reduce the appearance of puffiness, wrinkles, fine lines and large pores. Green Tea is found in the Dr. Brandt skin care line, Z. Bigatti and Gly Derm products.
TNS – The biotechnology of the skin’s natural healing process has arrived with the first tissue repairing complex containing growth factors found in normal, healthy skin. Unlike anything else currently on the market, TNS is the next level of skin rejuvenation that delivers dramatic results, for smoother, softer, younger looking skin. TNS is found in SkinMedica’s TNS Recovery Complex.
Many customers ask which anti-aging product is best and we always respond by saying that there is no best product. Since every individuals skin is different, the results of using anti-aging products will be different as well. We recommend that you consult with a skin care professional prior to use of any new skin care product to determine your skin type, skin condition and possible sensitivities to active ingredients. Your skin care professional may recommend specific products, or you can try a few on your own based on your consultation. If you are not happy with the first product you try, try another one. It’s important that you choose a product and skin care regimen that makes you feel 100% comfortable with the look and feel of your skin.
Customers also inquire about when they should expect to see results from using anti-aging products. Again, we respond by saying that results will be different for each individual, generally due to the condition of ones skin prior to use. However, across the board, we say not to expect a miracle, as there is no anti-aging product on the market that provides overnight results. Whether you are trying to reduce the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, dark circles, puffiness or age spots, the process is gradual and takes anywhere from 4 to 8 weeks depending on the severity of your problem areas. After allowing the products time to take effect as well as following product directions, you can be sure to notice significant improvement in the appearance of your skin.
To see the quickest results, you will have to undergo professional aesthetic procedures in a medical office. Laser treatments, dermal filler injections produce the fastest, most noticeable improvements. Pre and post treatment skin care plans may be helpful to achieve maximum results.
Actifirm Post Laser Gel combines skin-soothers like Aloe and Chamomile with a Mushroom-derived, exfoliating enzyme, Mucor Miehi Extract, to inhibit pain and inflammation, while helping renew your skin to its freshest form. You’ll be looking your best in no time.