Skin care for dark skin: 6 gaps in dermatological understanding

Skin care for dark skin is often misunderstood and mishandled in the dermatological community. And unfortunately, this often stems from a biased education. We’ll unpack the gaps in knowledge fostered by this education, and address them together. As a dermatological practice, we want all our clients to feel understood and cared for, so they are ready to face the day with confidence.

Knowledge gaps in skin care for dark skin: 

1. Only sun protection and hydroquinone effectively treat Melasma

The most common type of Melasma in darker-skinned patients is a combination of Melasma and Post-Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation, called Dyschromia. When treating this specific condition, non-hydroquinone treatments can be effective if used with caution. For example, azelaic acid, kojic acid, niacinamide, alpha-hydroxy acids, ascorbic acid, retinoids, and chemical peels. The intensity of these treatments, and the frequency of their administration must be tailored to the individual, though, as too much too soon can cause an adverse reaction in dark skin. 

2. Cosmetic surgery puts dark skin at increased risk of hyperpigmentation

Darker skins are more prone to hyperpigmentation than lighter skins, so many individuals put off cosmetic surgery as a result. It’s important to note that when carefully administered, cosmetic procedures can be safe for individuals with darker skins. Again, it comes down to intensity and timing. Superficial injections and serial punctures, for example, can spur on hyperpigmentation reactions. So, an adjusted approach, with less aggressive and less frequent treatments tend to yield the best results.

3. Injectable filler treatments cause keloids in dark skin

It is a wide-held belief that injectable fillers cause keloids in dark skin. While this can be true, it is more of a risk than a fact. Research in skin care for dark skin indicates that fewer injections can help reduce the risk of keloid formation and pigmentary changes. So, as we keep learning, a tailored approach is the way to go, with filler treatment arrangements working for and with the individual’s dark skin.

4. Darker-skinned individuals do not seek out lip filler treatments

Dark-skinned patients are less likely to undergo lip enhancement, especially if they are from a younger generation. However, in older patients, restoration of lip volume is a commonly sought out treatment. As people age, their lips tend to lose volume. And in ethnic communities, this is often more noticeable when women reach their sixties and seventies, at which point they may seek out filler treatments. 

5. There is only one cause for hyperpigmentation

As medical research indicates, hyperpigmentation has many causes and triggers, including acne, Acanthosis Nigricans, Melasma, steroid-containing creams, and Lichen Planuspigmentosus. A proper diagnosis is therefore crucial, and should precede any sort of treatment. Skin examinations factoring in patient medical and ancestral history can be helpful in formulating skin solutions in this regard, and allow medical professionals to provide a more specific, specialised treatment plan.

6. Ethnic groups have similar skin concerns

Skin concerns pertaining to dark-skinned individuals are often misunderstood and misdiagnosed because of the manifestation of the abnormality. Medical professionals often fail to recognise different skin diseases in darker skins because they present differently in those with lighter skins. As a result of this, vastly different skin concerns get grouped together and ‘generalised’, causing many individuals to receive inadequate and ineffective treatments.

An individualised approach to skin care for dark skin

The dermatological community is slowly transforming, and learning more about skin care for dark skin. We look forward to promising advances in the field of dermatology in the future. At Durban Skin Doctor, we have a progressive understanding of dark skin and its unique make-up, and offer an individualised approach to treatment. Click here to learn more about our dermatological practice.