Human skin is essentially the same for all of us. Colour is simply a reflection of melanin levels, along with variations in the connective tissue under the dermis and the haemoglobin circulating throughout the dermis.
Logical that dermatology for dark, or black skin should be the same as for light skin but the reality is far from this. Subtle differences bring a need for dedicated knowledge.
Darker complexions are at increased risk of hyperpigmentation, which discolours areas of the skin. Melanocytes (pigment producing cells) are present in greater concentration and react to environmental, or temperature change.
Those and other symptomatic factors could affect medical understanding, a key aspect in safely treating patients with the range of skin colour we see.
The same skin conditions bring different visual symptoms in darker skinned patients, which can bring misdiagnosis, or late detection. Dermatology for pigmented skin requires a unique approach.
Understanding The Difference
At the foot of this page, are links to detailed pages on treatment for conditions such as acne, melasma and skin cancer. Distinct skin colours require varied care, although none of us are exempt from common issues.
Darker skin is susceptible to skin conditions such as eczema, dermatitis, psoriasis and acne. Neither is black skin any less prone to injury, scalding, or burns.
All of these can however create a different reaction, or healing process. The colour of your skin also effects your reaction to a number of treatments and dictates specific choices.
Laser skin treatment is an example, where higher levels of epidermal melanin compete for therapeutic light generated by a laser, reducing the amount which can reach the intended target. This does not however protect from incorrect use of laser treatment.
Remarkable success can still be seen with the right type, or frequency of laser and a carefully set out treatment schedule. As with other types of treatment, undesirable risk can be set aside by specialist use.
A good specialist will equally appreciate that certain skin conditions are more distressing to people with black skin. The white patches created by vitiligo are an example, although less obvious differences need to be understood.
Appreciating subtle nuances skin variation brings also applies at any age. We offer a dedicated service as a children’s dermatologist in London. As with adults, our consultants appreciate the needs of young people with dark skin.
Choosing A Consultant
Whether you choose Skin Care Network, or another clinic, we would urge you to ensure the consultant dermatologist you see is experienced in diagnosing and treating darker skin, as our London staff are.
The points above are just a few of the differences between light and dark skin. Far more are brought about by the small anomalies evolution gave us, to provide varying protection from sun damage.
Our skin ages in different ways according to colour, dark skin may have fewer wrinkles but can have greater pigmentation problems. The ability to detect key conditions also requires a well trained eye.
Skin cancer is a case in point. People with dark skin are less likely to contract skin cancer but where this does happen, late diagnosis is an issue, which could lead to a less desirable outcome.
Our consultants are experienced in providing dermatology for dark skin in London and you are welcome to arrange a visit. If you live too far away, by all means phone for advice.
For any assistance, or to book a consultation, call 020 8441 1043, or send an email via the Make An Appointment button below.