Acne knows few boundaries and can afflict any skin type. Scientific debate on aspects from genetics, to sebaceous gland activity continues, although there is more variation within individual skin colours than across them.
Where differences start to become important is in the diagnosis and treatment of acne on dark, or black skin. Greater inflammation is not uncommon, treatments which may be fine on light skin could cause damage.
A greater likelihood of post inflammatory hyperpigmentation should be factored in, or keloid (overgrowing the wound) scarring. The long term outcome should be considered from the outset.
In all cases, we are looking at a condition primarily caused by genetic factors, bacterial and hormonal activity, often around puberty. Beyond this, the need is to look closely at the unique person being treated.
An experienced consultant dermatologist will examine acne present on your skin. Often on your face, although your chest, neck, or back can be affected.
Whilst not technically acne until blackheads, or whiteheads appear, they may also carry out microscopic examination to help determine nascent areas, or establish whether other, acne like conditions are present.
A consultant’s role is also to understand your individual skin type and needs. In terms of colour, condition, ability to safely respond to a variety of short, or longer term treatments and how you feel about the condition.
Acne has a quite personal impact, medical symptoms apart, an understandable cause of anxiety, or reduced self esteem. Listening to you, helping you solve the issue in a way you believe in is part of good treatment.
Treatment For Acne
Antibiotics are a treatment option for all skin colours, applied to the skin or taken orally. Their antimicrobial activity can assist, although they may not be a primary, or sole solution and antibiotic resistance needs to be considered.
There are quite mild, topical treatments available for early stage acne. These do however start us on the road of what is suitable for darker skin, some over the counter treatments appropriate for light skin could bring long term harm.
The same can apply to a range of dicarboxylic, or beta hydroxy organic acids normally prescribed as creams. They may be fine but their precise effect on your skin should be understood before they are prescribed.
Retinoids (vitamin A derivatives) are designed to reduce inflammation, normalise follicle cell activity and control sebum production. They can be an effective approach on darker skin.
Light therapy, in most cases photodynamic therapy may be a safe and successful option, if used in an appropriate way. Increased risk of hyperpigmentation on dark skin can be allowed for in the way treatment is applied.
Similar principles apply to chemical peels, the choice of agent matters. Or to laser treatment, where the type, wavelength and intensity of laser used has to be suitable for your individual skin colour.
The answer could also be a combination of the options above, in each case, ensuring they are a safe choice for your skin. You are welcome to see more on the approaches we take in a detailed section on acne treatment and outcomes.
Care In Our London Clinics
Skin colour is a key criteria, although sun exposure and health history matter. So does advice we can offer, including the importance of sun protection, during treatment and going forward.
Our staff work with patients by getting to know you and being supportive. Leading consultants and facilities are great to have, although help more if we share in engagement.
We also share understanding that acne which appears substantial, or relatively benign can bring life long consequences. Not least on quite dark, or black skin.
Providing forward looking dermatology for darker skin matters to us. If we can help in any way, or you would like to visit our London clinic, by all means get in touch.