Dealing with acne can be especially difficult for people of color, a skin expert says.
Acne affects up to 50 million people in the United States each year. For people of color, acne is often accompanied by dark spots or patches called hyperpigmentation.
“Acne is the most common skin condition in the U.S., and it can be particularly frustrating for people with skin of color because of the discoloration and scarring that can occur after blemishes heal,” said Dr. Crystal Aguh, a dermatologist in Columbia, Md.
“For these reasons, it’s critical to treat acne in skin of color carefully and avoid skin care products that can exacerbate discoloration,” she explained in an American Academy of Dermatology news release.
For mild acne, try using products that contain a retinoid and benzoyl peroxide or a product containing salicylic acid or retinol. Use only skin care labeled “non-comedogenic” or “won’t clog pores,” since clogged pores can lead to breakouts.
Don’t use skin care products that contain cocoa butter, as these can cause acne. Always check with your dermatologist before using at-home or herbal remedies, Aguh advised.
Don’t pick, squeeze or pop your acne, as this can lead to scarring, she said. This is especially important for people with darker skin tones, as they’re more prone to developing post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation — which appears as dark spots on the skin — and thickened scars.
When washing your face, use a mild cleanser that won’t clog your pores, and only use your fingertips to wash and rinse. Vigorous scrubbing will worsen your acne. Gently pat your skin dry with a clean towel, Aguh said.
Don’t use heavy, oily makeup. Protect your skin from the sun. Try skin-lightening products on dark spots. If your acne only appears on your forehead and temples, your hair care products may be to blame, she noted.
“When treating acne, it’s important to be patient, as it can take at least four to eight weeks to see improvement after using a topical acne medication,” Aguh said.
The American Academy of Family Physicians has more on acne.
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