People with black skin seem to have more active acne than people with other skin tones. In addition, once the acne heals, people with black and darker skin types tend to experience more post-acne dark spots and keloid (raised) scars. Therefore, the best way to prevent acne and post-acne dark spots is to begin treatment early before the acne worsens.
A study on adult female acne patients has shown that black women prioritize post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, while Caucasian patients are primarily concerned about the acne itself. Because PIH can be emotionally devastating for patients with skin of color, acne in people with darker skin types should be treated as soon as possible. PIH is difficult to camouflage with makeup.
What is the best treatment for black people with acne?
Black patients are less likely to receive oral acne therapy than Caucasians. These findings suggest that antibiotic resistance may be lower in patients with SOC because they are prescribed antibiotics less often. Treatment preferences also differ among racial groups. In one study, East and South Asian patients were less likely than Caucasians to see healthcare practitioners for acne. Additionally, Asian and Black patients preferred over-the-counter acne cleansers and creams over prescription treatments.
Not every acne product is safe for darker skin types. Gels like Adapalene (Differin, Epiduo) make the skin more sensitive to the sun. Without proper sun protection, these products can increase the tendency to develop dark spots and hyperpigmentation.
Topical retinoids like MDacne's customized retinol cream are an excellent treatment option for people with mild to moderate acne. This retinol cream can help reduce the appearance of active acne and help prevent and fade PIH at the exact times. People with black skin and moderate inflammatory acne can benefit from benzoyl peroxide 2.5% creams that contain licorice. These creams contain benzoyl peroxide, the best skin anti-acne ingredients, and a few plant-based ingredients that reduce skin irritation and help fade hyperpigmented post-acne dark spots.
The safest acne ingredients for people with acne and darker skin types are benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid. These ingredients are on the top American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) acne treatment guidelines ingredients list.
- Salicylic acid is a naturally derived beta-hydroxy acid (BHA). Salicylic acid helps to unclog pores and reduce inflammation. In addition, it can clear pimples, blackheads, and whiteheads and help fade dark spots.
- Benzoyl peroxide is the single most effective topical anti-acne ingredient. Benzoyl peroxide (BPO) fights the bacteria that cause acne, unclogs the skin pores, and prevents acne breakouts. It is very safe for black skin. *Note: Benzoyl peroxide can bleach clothing, sheets, pillowcases, and towels but will NOT cause white spots on your skin.
Special acne treatment tips for people with black skin
1. Look for micronized benzoyl peroxide. This type of benzoyl peroxide penetrates better into the skin pores and thus is more effective and less irritating to your skin.
2. Never pick, pop, or squeeze acne pimples. These will increase your risk of getting dark spots and scars.
3. If you have many pimples on your forehead, near your hairline, or over your temple,s you will need to change your hair care routine. Look for hair care products that contain water or glycerin instead of oil.
4. If you must use hair gel, use it only in the middle of your scalp and the tips of your hair.
5. Never apply cocoa butter or shea butter on your face, back, or chest. These products can clog your pores and cause more acne breakouts.
6. Try to avoid thick, oily makeup. It may be an effective way to hide blemishes, but these makeups frequently worsen your acne. The best makeup for dark acne-prone skin would be mineral makeup that is clearly labeled "oil-free," "non-comedogenic or "for acne-prone skin."
7. Stop using harsh exfoliators or elector skin brushes. These will damage the protective layer of your skin and will actually cause more breakouts and brown spots. The best way to wash your face is with a medicated mild cleanser and your bare hands.
8. Always pat dry your skin with a clean towel.
9. Beware of baseball caps, headbands, or any other hats that rub on your skin. If you do not wash them frequently, they will accumulate sweat, dirt, and oil, causing more acne.
10. If you have black skin and acne, you need to start as soon as possible with an effective anti-acne treatment personalized to your acne severity and skin type. The MDacne treatment takes into account your skin type and provides personalized products with the right ingredients to both reduce your active acne and help fade your brown spots.
What is the best treatment for PIH and post-acne dark spots in people with black skin?
PIH and post-acne dark spots are better to prevent in the first place. If you already have them, they can be safely treated with an Advanced Dark Spot remover.
- Davis EC, Callender VD. A review of acne in ethnic skin: pathogenesis, clinical manifestations, and management strategies. J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. 2010;3(4):24-38.
- Callender VD, Alexis AF, Daniels SR, et al. Racial differences in clinical characteristics, perceptions and behaviors, and psychosocial impact of adult female acne. J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. 2014;7(7):19-31.
- Mehta M, Kundu RV. Racial differences in treatment preferences of acne vulgaris: a cross-sectional study. J Drugs Dermatol. 2020;19(12):802.
- Barbieri JS, Shin DB, Wang S, et al. Association of race/ethnicity and sex with differences in health care use and treatment for acne. JAMA Dermatol. 2020;156(3):312-319.
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