Acne is formed in the same way and for many of the same reasons, regardless of skin color. However, for those of Latina, Asian and Black ethnicity with darker skin (Fitzpatrick skin types IV–VI) how acne affects the skin, and how it is treated, might differ from those with Caucasian skin types. The main distinguishing qualities of acne in darker skin, is a tendency for post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH). Marks left behind after PIH are often referred to as scars, which they are not. While these marks can take months, or even years to fade, they are not permanent and can be treated, or better yet, prevented. Keloidal or hypertrophic scarring is another tendency in those with darker skin.
Like many other ethnic groups, Latino people tend to have a higher rate of acne, in part because Latina skin is typically more oily, making it acne-prone, even well into adulthood. More specifically, Latina skin is more susceptible to post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (darkening of the affected area after it has healed). These acne lesions can take a long time to fade, and may not ever fade.
Most treatments for acne are consistent regardless of the ethnicity of the skin. The key to controlling sebum (oil) production is with sulfur-based products and spot treatments designed to dry the blemish, kill acne-causing bacteria, and calm irritated skin. The key to preventing post-inflammatory hyperpgimentation (PIH) and scarring is to refrain from picking the skin and popping pimples.
However, there are treatments that can treat acne blemishes while addressing post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH). Yet another important factor, often ignored by Latinas is the importance of UV protection which can exacerbate PIH if not applied daily.
Acne is a very common among those of Asian descent. People with Asian skin tend to have an increased incidence with marks left behind after acne lesions heal (post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation) and keloid scarring, which can be difficult to treat and may last a long time.
While there seems to be a lack of definitive research on the cause and treatment of acne in Asians, there is some evidence that Asians may not respond well to hormone therapy as a treatment, however this is not conclusive. The best remedy is a proactive approach to preventing the onset of acne to avoid breakouts and minimize the risk of future hyperpigmenation and scarring.
Acne is the most common skin disorder among black adolescents and adults, regardless of where they live in the world. Notably, those with black skin tend to have inflammatory acne – the most common type of acne – however, they have lower incidence of nodules and cysts – the most severe forms of acne. That said, black skinned people do have an increased chance of keloid scarring which is very difficult to treat, making scarring the most concerning factor among those with black skin.
Acne prevention is the primary goal for those with black skin. Avoiding greasy emollients from black hair products is one important strategy. When these products come in contact with the skin, they block pores. This can either begin the process of acne, or can aggravate existing acne, leading to inflammation especially along the hairline.
Fortunately, inflammatory acne develops and is treated the same way regardless of skin color, and with the right regimen is easy to prevent and clear. Products containing benzoyl peroxide or sulfur are particularly effective for the inflammatory acne since these have a drying and peeling effect.
Tips for All Skin Types
- Regardless of your skin type or ethnicity, the best way to avoid post-acne marks and scars is to avoid picking acne lesions at all cost!
- Spot treat acne blemishes the moment you feel them developing – this highly effective spot acne treatment uses sulfur to reduce swelling and heal blemishes in 12- 24 hours
- If you really need to pop a pimple, learn how to pop a pimple the right way and then let the lesion heal without further picking or touching.
- Avoid harsh scrubbing – dark marks will not fade with harsh scrubbing, in fact, they will get worse as you injure the skin even more.
- Wear sunscreen every day – even if you spot treat marks and scarred areas with sunscreen. This is the best way to speed up the fading of these marks.