As a person of color (POC), you’re proud of your richly pigmented skin and grateful that you burn less easily than fairer types. However, you may have unique frustrations that sometimes accompany people whose skin tone ranges from 4-6 on the Fitzpatrick scale, including skin that’s more easily and visibly damaged or discolored.
At Radiance Dermatology in Bethesda, Maryland, Dr. Omolara Olowoyeye and our team understand the unique benefits of darker skin, as well as some of the common aesthetic issues that face POC. If you’d like a more even skin tone — free of growths and scars — we share the following information about conditions we can treat to help you toward that goal.
Melasma is a type of hyperpigmentation, which is an area or patch of skin that’s darker than your overall skin tone. Melasma may be more visible in lighter skin tones, but is more prevalent in those with darker skin tones, including people of Asian or Hispanic descent.
You may have melasma if you notice brown or gray patches on your:
Although both women and men get melasma, it affects women at a far greater rate, probably because melasma is influenced by hormones. In fact, many women first develop melasma when they’re pregnant and experience a surge of hormones, which is why the condition is sometimes referred to as “the mask of pregnancy.”
We lighten the appearance of melasma with various treatments, including:
It’s especially important to avoid sun exposure, which worsens melasma. Melasma may fade on its own as hormonal surges subside, such as during perimenopause and menopause.
Vitiligo is a type of hypopigmentation, which is a condition characterized by patches of skin that have less pigment than your overall skin tone. Vitiligo can be a frustrating condition because it tends to worsen with time.
Celebrities with vitiligo include the late musician Michael Jackson, the model Winnie Harlow, and rapper Big Krizz Kaliko. Vitiligo may appear on the face, hands, or other areas of the body.
Vitiligo affects people with fair skin, too, but is most noticeable in darker skin tones, where the contrast in pigment is greater. With vitiligo, your skin cells actually stop producing melanin, which is the substance that gives your skin color.
New vitiligo treatments focus on helping your skin cells produce melanin again. You can also fade surrounding skin to better match the light patches.
We specialize in all kinds of pigmentation disorders in POC, whether you have patches that are darker or lighter than your overall skin tone. Hyperpigmentation, especially, is common in darker skins as a result of inflammation, such as acne scars.
Depending on your needs, we may recommend:
Many of our treatments for pigmentation disorders improve the overall quality of your skin, too.
Dermatosis papulosa nigra (DPN) is a dark, mole-like growth that affects 10-75% of individuals with darker pigmentation, including those of Asian and African descent. Some famous POC who have the dark papules of DPN include Morgan Freeman and Condoleeza Rice.
Most researchers believe that DPN is a variant of the skin condition called seborrheic keratoses. You’re more likely to have DPN on sun-exposed areas of your skin, including your head, neck, and upper trunk. Use of at-home skin-lightening treatments may increase the risk for DPN.
We remove DPN either through surgical excision or cryotherapy. However, laser treatments improve DPN and also increase the health of your skin overall. We base our treatment recommendations on your unique case.
Keloids are a type of bulky, raised scar that usually affects people with darker skin tones. They can become quite large and are thought to be caused by extra collagen that’s produced during the healing stage after an injury, such as a cut, puncture wound, or even acne.
If you tend to develop keloids, always inform your doctor before any kind of surgical procedure.
You can try to prevent keloids if you’re wounded, or even bitten by a bug by:
We discuss your keloids and give you advice on how to prevent new ones. If you’d like to remove the keloid scars you currently have, we may advise:
Keloids that are removed surgically tend to recur without combination therapy, such as surgery and laser treatment.
You can have the beautiful, healthy, even-toned skin of your dreams by treating your pigmentation disorders today. Call our friendly staff at 301-430-4000 or book an appointment online.