Acne treatment for black skin is not that different than acne treatment for skin of any other color, but there are a few differences of which you should be aware. We’ll tell you what you need to know about acne skin treatment for black skin and let you know which skincare products we really like. First, though, let’s talk about what makes black skin different from lighter skin.
Acne is about as common in people with dark skin as in people with light skin. However, it is more likely to lead to discoloration (postinflammatory hyperpigmentation or PIH) and scarring in black skin.
There are also some issues that affect the likelihood of developing acne and the best treatment for acne which aren’t exactly due to the color or type of skin people have but are due to cultural differences or practices that can affect acne. For instance, many African-American people use hair oil or other hair care products that can clog pores and therefore cause acne. Many people with dark skin don’t use sunscreen, since they are less likely to get sunburn than people with lighter skin, but sunscreen is still recommended for everyone, regardless of skin color, and excessive exposure to sunlight can trigger acne. Finally, some people with black skin use bleaching creams to lighten their skin, which can lead to skin irritation or acne in some people.
While the same acne treatments are often recommended regardless of the color of a person’s skin, it’s important to realize that different treatments may affect people differently depending on the color of their skin. In some cases, the treatment may need to be adjusted accordingly. In other instances, patients simply need to be informed about what to expect from their treatment.
Retinoid creams or gels are often prescribed to treat moderate to severe cases of acne. According to the Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology(1), these often trigger contact dermatitis in dark skin. To avoid causing skin irritation and discomfort, low doses should be prescribed at first in a cream form, not a gel. The dose can be gradually increased if necessary over time, as tolerated.
Isotretinoin, an oral retinoid sometimes prescribed to treat severe acne, has been found to be very effective in people with black skin but it often causes an initial worsening of acne symptoms before the condition starts to get better. It’s important for patients taking isotretinoin to be aware of that so they don’t think the medication is not working and stop taking it.
You might think all dermatologists should be knowledgeable about treating acne in black patients, but unfortunately, that is just not always the case. If you need to see a dermatologist, ask if the doctor has experience treating black patients and if he or she is familiar with the differences in treating acne in patients of different skin colors. If the doctor is upset by these questions or doesn’t want to answer them, we suggest looking for a different doctor.
We recommend the Proactiv Solution 60 Day Acne Treatment Kit for people with dark skin. Ingredients include benzyol peroxide, recommended by the Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology(1) to treat acne in people with black skin. Benzoyl peroxide is commonly used to treat acne but it occasionally causes skin irritation, especially in high doses. If this or any skincare product does cause irritation or discomfort, stop using it and see your doctor to discuss other treatment options. We’ve found the products in this acne treatment kit to be gentle enough for most people to comfortably use. To find out more about our favorite acne treatment, just follow the link.